Responding to figures showing that urban and suburban water users fell short of Gov. Jerry Brown's call for a 20 percent voluntary cut in water use, the Hollister City Council on May 26 adopted a resolution supporting the doubling of the square footage of and expansion of funding for turf removal.
The city's action supports the Water Resource Association of San Benito County's request to expand the square footage of lawn that can be removed for a rebate from 500 to 1,000 square feet — with a minimum removal of 100 square feet required for the rebate, which is $1 per square foot. Each 500 square feet of turn that is removed equals more than 13,000 gallons of water conserved over the course of an irrigation season, which typically runs from late April through the end of September in San Benito County.
The council had no comment while unanimously supporting the doubling of the turf removal rebate program, which City Manager William Avera called "relatively successful" thus far. More than 27,000 square feet have been removed locally since July 2014. The water resources board has a goal of removing 100,000 square feet of turf in the next fiscal year.
A report to the council noted that from June 2014 to January 2015, Hollister urban area residents have cut back their water use by approximately 14 percent — compared to a 9.7 percent cutback statewide. In January 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown urged residents to reduce their water usage by 20 percent. In April of this year, Brown enacted mandatory emergency water conservation regulations with the goal of achieving a 25 percent reduction in water usage statewide compared to 2013 water consumption.
The rules adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board in April:
- Ban all restaurants, bars and hotels from serving water unless customers ask for it
- Require hotels and motels to provide signs in rooms telling guests that they have the option to choose not to have towels and linens washed daily
- Ban Californians from watering lawns and landscaping with potable water within 48 hours after measurable rainfall
- Require cities, counties, water districts and private companies to limit lawn watering to two days per week if they aren't already enacting those limitations
The lawn-watering provisions are expected to have the most impact, according to water officials, because outdoor irrigation makes up 44 percent of water use in California's urban and suburban communities.
For more information about water conservation and local rebates available through the Water Resource Association of San Benito County, click here.