The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission passed a measure today that aims to aggressively conserve water in the city by increasing the mandatory outdoor irrigation reduction from 10 percent to 25 percent of 2013 usage, a utility spokesman said Tuesday.
"For outdoor irrigation accounts, any water use in excess of the 25 percent reduction will be billed at twice the current water rate," explained SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue.
Steven Ritchie, assistant general manager of the SFPUC's Water Enterprise, said residents are also required to reduce their water usage by 10 percent below their 2013 usage.
He said hopefully the measure would send the message that watering for ornamental purposes needs to be reigned in so that if the drought does persist, there won't need to be "draconian" measures.
Ritchie explained that the restriction goes into effect Tuesday.
"This is not going to be business as usual," he said.
Even though San Francisco boasts some of the lowest residential per capita water use numbers in the state, currently averaging about 44 to 45 gallons per person per day, more needs to be done to make sure water is not being wasted, Jue said.
"We want our customers to hit at least 10 percent savings this year," Jue said, explaining that in the fourth year of a severe drought every little bit saved helps, "especially if next winter is bad."
Jue said the SFPUC would launch an aggressive public campaign to spread the conservation message as well as work with the city's largest institutions and water users to implement water efficiency measures.
Among the 1,600 irrigation-only accounts that will be required to reduce usage by 25 percent or face overage fees are community gardens, parks, universities and golf courses, Jue said.
Ritchie said the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is exempt from the 25 percent irrigation reduction but that it is required to conserve water in other ways that won't negate city services.
Ritchie encouraged all San Francisco water users to get online and check out the their account usage on the SFPUC website, monitor their water conservation progress and compare it against their 2013 water usage.