Camarillo, Thousand Oaks limit outdoor watering amid drought

2022-05-28 00:10:32 By : Mr. Alex Zhang

Camarillo and Thousand Oaks are the latest cities in Ventura County to restrict outdoor watering in the wake of the state’s drought. 

The two city councils this week adopted rules limiting outdoor watering to one night a week in an effort to conserve water. 

The restrictions went into effect immediately.

"I know it’s really hard to see lawns turn from green to brown," Camarillo Vice Mayor Susan Santangelo said Wednesday. "I know it is, but we have to do our part,"

The decision conforms with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Calleguas Municipal Water District boards’ decision in April to limit watering outdoors to one day a week. 

Earlier this month, the Simi Valley and Oxnard city councils adopted similar restrictions to fall in line with the water agencies' limits.

Calleguas supplies some of the water used by the cities of Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks. Its operations impact about 75% of county residents. 

Restrictions: Oxnard limits outdoor watering as city, state grapple with drought

In Camarillo, outdoor watering is limited to one night a week, between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., on a specific day based on street address.

Home and business addresses ending in an even number can water on Tuesday night. Odd-numbered addresses can water Thursday night. 

For an address ending in a fraction, the day will be based on the last whole number before the fraction. Someone living at 45 1/2, for example, would water on Thursday.

Camarillo contracted Green Media Creations Inc. to look for violations and provide community outreach for three years at $80,000 per year, said Michelle Glueckert D’Anna, the city’s spokesperson, in an email Thursday.

Dave Klotzle, Camarillo's public works director, said the city will emphasize helping residents comply with the ordinance. Residents can also be fined up to $1,000 for violating restrictions. 

Drip irrigation systems can stay on. Residents can water trees, shrubs and groundcover with a bucket or hose with a self-closing nozzle. 

Community parks, recreational areas, athletic fields and golf courses are also exempt from the restrictions. However, the city recommends reducing water usage by 30%.

Parched: Simi Valley limits outdoor watering to once a week amid severe drought 

In Thousand Oaks, residences with odd-numbered street addresses will be allowed to water outdoors on Saturdays; those with even numbers on Sundays. Outdoor watering on those days can take place at night between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., said Helen Cox, the city’s sustainability division manager.

The city is requiring residents to convert any outdoor watering system they use to a low-flow system within 60 days.

Outdoor water use "is where all our water is being wasted,” council member Claudia Bill-de la Peña said at Tuesday night's meeting. “I hope that those that are using water excessively will be held accountable.”

Under the resolution declaring a Level 4 water supply shortage, violators will be issued a warning for the first infraction, fined $100 for a second, $200 for a third and $500 for a fourth, Cox said.

If there is a fifth violation, the city will install a flow restrictor, which will limit the amount of water to the property, she said.

Sprinklers will continue to be permitted only for playing fields, licensed daycare centers, golf course fairways and greens and school grounds.

The city will suspend code enforcement for brown or dead lawns to support the restrictions on outdoor use.

The city is encouraging residents to cut down on indoor water use but not mandating it, Cox said.

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Clint Fultz, a Thousand Oaks resident and a member of the Conejo Climate Coalition, said during public comments that he supports the resolution.

“Now is the time for the city to be an environmental leader on topics such as climate change adaptation, water conservation and greenhouse gas production,” he said.

Several members of the swimming pool industry expressed worries.

“We’re all concerned because we’ve heard some rumors about there being restrictions on swimming pool construction and new pools,” said Scott Cohen, vice chair of the California Pool and Spa Association.

But Cox said the resolution does not ban construction of new pools. It only mandates that pools be covered when not in use to limit evaporation, she said. Empty pools can be filled, she said, but not refilled.

Dan Drugan, manager of resources for Calleguas, told Camarillo council members Wednesday the Metropolitan Water District could prohibit outdoor watering outright if current conservation efforts don’t work. 

“We need folks to get out there right away to conserve immediately,” Drugan said. 

The State Water Resources Control Board has already approved additional restrictions that are scheduled to take effect next month. The restrictions will prohibit watering lawns on commercial, industrial and institutional properties.

The State Water Project, which supplies Calleguas, gets its water from Sierra Nevada snowpack and transfers it to Southern California. The Metropolitan Water District sends that supply to Calleguas. 

The wholesale supplier then provides water to cities and smaller providers that directly serve homes and businesses. 

Thousand Oaks is primarily served by three water purveyors: California American Water Co., the city’s water agency and California Water Service. All three receive their water from Calleguas.

For more information on Camarillo's and Thousand Oaks' water restrictions, visit cityofcamarillo.org/waterconservation and toakswater.org.

Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at mike.harris@vcstar.com or 805-437-0323.

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Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at brian.varela@vcstar.com or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @BrianVarela805.