Drought to force mandatory water restrictions

Local officials to discuss ways to reach mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use

Facing worsening drought conditions and water supply projections, local officials will consider implementing restrictions designed to reduce water consumption by 25 percent, compared to water use in 2013. The City of Hollister plans to go to the City Council on Monday, April 20 to consider the restrictions. Sunnsylope County Water District and the San Juan Bautista City Council will follow suit on Tuesday, April 21.

The actions come after the State Water Resources Control Board called for mandatory water restrictions with a goal of achieving a 25 percent reduction of water use throughout the state. 

These restrictions include, but are not limited to:
1.    Water customers are required to reduce water consumption by 25 percent compared to their water use in 2013.

2.    Landscape watering shall be limited and restricted to no more than two days per week.

3.    No watering of landscaping between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. by means other than drip irrigation or hand watering with a quick acting positive shut off nozzle.   

4.    No washing down sidewalks, driveways, or other hardscape surfaces.

5.    No watering landscaping in a manner that causes runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, or parking lots. 

6.    No washing of cars without the use of quick acting, positive shutoff nozzle.

7.    No operation of decorative fountains or other water features unless the water is re-circulated. 

8.    Leaks, breaks, and malfunctions of irrigation systems and plumbing equipment causing waste of water shall be repaired and corrected within a reasonable amount of time as determined by the District Manger, General Manager or City Manager.

Local groundwater levels are 30 to 40 feet lower than their peak levels, reflecting the greater use of groundwater in 2014 that has caused the local area to begin the year at a greater deficit in groundwater supplies than last year. The Northern California Sierra snowpack, which is a key factor in the availability of imported water supplies, is only around 6 percent of normal.

San Benito County’s groundwater basin is the largest local “reservoir” of water, and the San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) works aggressively to protect these resources, said Shawn Novack, the water conservation program manager for the Water Resources Association of San Benito County. "With less water available to replenish our local groundwater basin, the increase in conservation is critical. Decreasing demand by cutting water usage will help protect groundwater storage. Our reservoirs that store local water (Hernandez and Paicines) have been empty for two years.

The SBCWD took action on April 1 by declaring a water shortage emergency and implemented the district’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. 

All of the SBCWD’s agricultural customers have already been impacted by the drought because there was a zero allocation of water to agricultural customers last year and again this year. Small parcel and urban customers were also affected receiving only a 50 percent allocation last year and a 25 percent allocation this year. Novack said that the water district will still have sufficient water to operate the upgraded Lessalt Water Treatment Plant at 75 percent capacity.

"To reach the goals of reducing water use 25 percent it will take a concerted effort by the community," Novack said in a press release. "The Water Resources Association of San Benito County, which represents all the agencies listed above for their water conservation efforts, has many free programs and services to assist local residents."

Agency representatives urge residents to call them to set up a free leak check and find out ways to reduce water use. They can be reached at: (831) 637-4378 or visit their website:

BenitoLink Staff