BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Most of Kern County is in an exceptional drought, and now, there are new restrictions coming into effect to help conserve water in Bakersfield.
After December 14th, before you water your lawn, make sure it’s on a day that you’re allowed to. That’s because of new water restrictions coming into effect to help combat the drought by the city of Bakersfield and Cal Water.
“It’s a matter of the city moving into stage 2 of our drought mitigation plan,” said Joe Conroy from the City of Bakersfield.
If you’re a customer of the City of Bakersfield water system you’ll have to water your lawn just three days a week, although the city recommends just watering two. Cal Water also has similar restrictions starting December 14th.
“We will have irrigation days limited to two days per week. And that will be on Tuesdays and Saturdays for addresses that end in an odd number and Wednesdays and Sundays for addresses that end in an even number,” said Yvonne Kingman, Director of Corporate Communications, California Water Service.
The goal is to combat the drought and conserve water. The state-mandated a 15% reduction in water usage, so the city said those actions are to help that. The city also said 70% of water usage comes from outdoor irrigation, so reducing the number of water days could help that.
Both Cal Water and the city said that since these restrictions are required, there are penalties if you do violate the guidelines. But, officials said they want to help and work with the community to save water.
“Our first responsibility and our first goal and to improve efficiency. If it’s a repeatable offense, we do have some authority to issue fines. But right now, we’re just focusing on education and outreach and making sure that people are using water wisely,” said Art Chianello, Water Resources Department Manager.
The city didn’t specify what those penalties exactly are. Cal Water said that if they are notified of someone not following the rules like watering their lawns on days they shouldn’t be or wasting water, they will provide mail notices. Also under stage 2, Cal Water penalties double from $25 to $50. But like the city, they said a priority is helping teach people.
“Of course, we always prefer to work with our customers and educate them first, so we always provide a warning because a lot of times people don’t even know that what they’re doing is wasteful,” said Kingman.
Officials don’t know how long this stage will last, it’s all based on how much water we are able to conserve and the rain or snow that replenishes our system.
“A lot depends on what happens this winter,” said Chianello.
California's Sierra snowpack typically supplies about one-third of the state's water once it melts. This year, that snowpack was already gone by May.
As for the state's reservoirs, they are only at 50-percent of their average levels.
A 2020 study that looked at tree rings for historical climate clues suggests that the region may be entering the worst period of drought encountered in 1,200 years.
Lastly, droughts can be a very costly disaster. According to the U.S. National Centers for Environment Information, a drought averages $9.3 billion in damages and loss.