Water conservation regulations shift to reflect local conditions

Local water officials meet and decide to suggest a 15 percent reduction in residential water usage compared to 2013

The State Water Resources Control Board has approved modifications to the existing emergency water conservation regulation to reflect improved conditions and allow for more local decision-making.

The modified regulation replaces the existing state-imposed mandatory conservation standards with a locally driven, supply-based assessment process. Urban water suppliers will now be required to self-certify their water supply availability assuming three additional dry years and customer demands based on 2013 and 2014 averages. Local suppliers will then determine the level of conservation needed to assure adequate supply over that time.

This action follows a relatively wet winter in Northern California. More rain and snow fell in Northern California as compared to Central and Southern California; yet, due to California’s water conveyance systems, concerns over supply reliability have eased even in urban Southern California. Consequently, the mandatory demand-driven conservation standards in place over the last ten months have been adjusted. 

Locally, our rainfall has been about average. This Water Year, which began on Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, has seen about 14.5 inches of rain register at the San Benito County Water District’s weather station (Oct. 1 through April 30). Hardly enough to rebound from four years of drought. That’s why conservation standards are still needed in case Winter 2016 was a short reprieve in a longer drought.

The managers from the San Benito County Water District, the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, the Sunnyslope County Water District and the Water Resources Association of San Benito County met this week to discuss local supply and water conservation goals for the remainder of the calendar year. The outcome was to suggest a 15 percent reduction in residential water use compared to residential water consumption in 2013.  

The managers will bring their recommendations to their Boards and Councils in June for approval. To achieve a 15 percent reduction, the following restrictions will be recommended:


  • Landscape watering shall be limited and restricted to three days per week. 
  • No watering of landscaping between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. unless it is with drip irrigation or hand watering with a quick acting positive shut off nozzle.
  • No washing down sidewalks, driveways, patios, porches, or other hardscape surfaces.
  • No watering lawns within 48 hours of rain
  • No watering landscape that causes runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, or parking lots.
  • No washing of cars without the use of a quick acting, positive shutoff nozzle.
  • No operation of decorative fountains or other water features unless the water is re-circulated.


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 Manager of Sunnyslope County Water District, the City Manager of the City of Hollister or the City Manager of San Juan Bautista.


Restaurants and other food service establishments can only serve water on request; 
Operators of hotels and motels must provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily and prominently display notice of this option.

If you need assistance in conserving water or want to report water waste, contact the Water Resources Association of San Benito County (WRASBC) at: (831) 637-4378 or visit the website for water saving ideas and tips at:

Shawn Novack

Shawn Novack is the Director of the Water Resources Association of San Benito County. The Association represents the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, the Sunnyslope County Water District and the San Benito County Water District for all their water conservation and water resource protection programs. Shawn has been in the field of water conservation for 18 years. He has a certification as a Water Conservation Practioner from the American Water Works Association California/Nevada Chapter. He also is a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor through the Irrigation Association in Virginia. Before getting into the water industry, Shawn worked as a technical writer for the Naval Research Center in Monterey.