Visalians, it’s time to adopt a new habit. One of our most important resources is in trouble, and we need to do everything we can to protect it today and into the future.
Governor Brown declared a statewide drought emergency in response to our third drought year, and calls upon all citizens to reduce their water usage by 20%. The average depth to the groundwater beneath Visalia is at an historical low. If the current pace of pumping water continues, eventually there will be insufficient water to sustain our needs.
On March 17, the City Council adopted a water conservation ordinance and implemented Stage 4 – Water Emergency, which takes effect today, April 17. Stage 4 allows watering one day a week March-April and November-December, two days a week in May and October, and three days a week June-September. No watering will be allowed in January and February. In total, the changes will bring an estimated 25% annual reduction in landscape irrigation, which is responsible for about 60% of the total water usage in the City.
During months when one watering day a week is allowed, odd-numbered addresses will water on Saturdays, even-numbered on Sundays. During months when two days a week are allowed, odd-numbered addresses will water on Tuesdays and Saturdays, even-numbered on Wednesdays and Sundays. During the summer months, when three days a week are allowed, odd -numbered addresses will water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and even-numbered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The City and its residents have assertively responded to calls for water conservation, dating back to 1991, when mandatory water restrictions were put in place. Visalia has had an active groundwater recharge program since 2005, and is investing $140 million to upgrade the Water Conservation Plant to turn its wastewater into high-quality recycled water. The City has planted low-water-use plants and turf in its parks and landscapes and installed smart irrigation controllers.
There are steps all of us can take today to conserve our most precious resource on a long-term basis. Residents and businesses are urged to check their irrigation systems to make sure they don’t have any leaks. Adjust any misaligned sprinklers to prevent overwatering. Reduce the size of your lawn by making beds bigger and plant low-water-use plants. Mulch beds to help keep moisture in the soil and plant roots cooler in the summer. Replace older toilets or clothes washers with new high-efficiency models.
The City will conduct a citywide outreach effort utilizing the media, public presentations, targeted mailings, special events, as well as demonstration gardens in the four quadrants of the City that provide information on recommended low water use plants and landscapes. We also will work with our partners at the State in its “Save Our Water” campaign with informational flyers, brochures, and social media messaging to provide information you can use to maintain your landscape once the new ordinance is in place. For information on outreach activities, go to www.gogreenvisalia.org to learn more.
Good water conservation habits can be easier to start if you combine them with habits you already have. If you have good indoor habits for conserving water –shorter showers, shutting the water off in between teeth brushes, etc. –take those habits outdoors. Need help in your low-water use landscape makeover? Go to www.visalia.watersavingplants.com for a gallery of ideas courtesy of California Water Service Company.
We all can adopt habits to reduce our water use inside and outside our homes on a daily basis. These small changes can make a big difference for the City. Join me, my fellow Council members, City staff and fellow citizens in this statewide effort to save California’s water.