On July 26, the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) Board of Directors adopted drought penalties to encourage water conservation during the ongoing drought.
The measures approved by the board are in response to the mandated statewide 15% domestic water-use reduction, as outlined in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order of May 25 that required urban water suppliers to enact Shortage Level 2 of the their Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP). CVWD proactively adopted Shortage Level 2 and a portion of Level 3 in April.
Under the drought penalties plan, CVWD domestic water customers will be asked to reduce their monthly outdoor water use 10% below their Tier 2 outdoor water budget. Water use above 90 percent of Tier 2 budgets will be assessed a drought penalty of 29 cents per unit of water. Tiers 3, 4 and 5 will see per unit penalty rates of $1.80, $3.16 and $6.44, respectively. This approach will not impact 60 percent of customers who are efficient water users.
Customers who incur penalties will begin to see the charges on September bills for water use in August. Revenue from drought penalties will be used to pay for additional customer conservation programs including turf replacement rebates.
CVWD has committed $2 million in turf conversion rebates since July 1 including turf conversions spurred by the District’s partnership with the City of Rancho Mirage offering $6 per square foot to customers who live within its city. CVWD is seeking other partnerships to encourage a reduction in water use and participation in cost-share rebate programs for customers.
Mandatory Conservation Actions in Levels 2 and 3 of the WSCP include:
- No overspray irrigation during daylight hours, except when checking for leaks.
- Drinking water in eating or drinking establishments is only served upon request. Businesses can order table tents here.
- Reduce outdoor water budgets.
- Discourage overseeding.
- Increase water waste patrols.
- Increase public outreach campaign.
- Expand rebate program. CVWD increased its Turf Conversion rebate from $2 to $3. Pre-approval is required. Customers can visit cvwd.org/rebates to apply or for details.
Exceptions to the above restrictions are available when an immediate health, safety or sanitation need exists. CVWD is working with customers to quickly resolve violations. After a written warning, customers may be responsible for fines on their bill starting at $50.
“A sustainable aquifer is essential for the future economic prosperity of the Coachella Valley,” said CVWD Board President John Powell, Jr. “These conservation actions will encourage water-use efficiency and move us toward meeting the state’s goal of a 15% overall reduction in water use.”
The state has also imposed a ban on watering of non-functional or decorative grass at commercial, industrial, institutional sites and HOAs. Non-functional grass is grass that is solely decorative. It does not include areas that are used for recreation or civic community events or turf areas with trees. Fines up to $500 per day may be imposed.
More information about drought penalties and about water use restrictions is available at cvwd.org/drought.
Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional stormwater protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 113,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.