A drought is a prolonged period with less-than-average amounts of rain or snow in a region. California’s temperature and precipitation have been very warm and dry over the past couple of years.
Winters are becoming shorter and drier, while summers are longer and hotter. This variable climate pattern has become the norm in California and has impacted water supply basins with some water storage levels reaching new record lows.
These environmental impacts are affecting the water supplies for the City of Riverside. The groundwater level in the local Riverside and San Bernardino basins from which the City produces its drinking water supplies have decreased steadily over the past 24 years. While there is no immediate shortage of available water, it will benefit the community to make small changes in how we use water outdoors to protect our water supplies into the future.
Latest Drought Information
Due to persistent and extreme drought conditions, on March 28, 2022 the Governor called for increased water-savings directing the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to consider an emergency drought regulation to ensure more aggressive water conservation. Effective June 10, 2022, SWRCB adopted emergency drought regulation which includes
- Water providers must implement actions identified with their Water Shortage Contingency Plan - Level 2 to obtain targeted water savings of 10%-20%.
- Banning the use of potable water to irrigate non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors, including HOAs. The ban does not include turf at residences or turf used for recreation or community purposes and does not prohibit the use of water to the extent necessary to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings.
STEP UP YOUR WATER SAVING EFFORTS
On June 13, 2022 the Board of Public Utilities voted to support implementation of drought response measures. City Council is in the process of considering this recommendation.
RPU Water Use Regulations
While Riverside Public Utilities is prepared to meet the City’s current water supply needs, customers are urged to implement the following actions to eliminate water waste and increase water saving efforts:
- Irrigate between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 AM to avoid losses to evaporation
- All automatic irrigation timers shall be adjusted to the irrigation time restrictions and changing weather patterns, and shall completely eliminate run-off
- Use of graywater and recycled water for irrigation is permitted on any day and time
- Repair all leaks, improperly adjusted sprinklers, or other water appurtenances within 72 hours of notification by the City
- Construction operations receiving water from a construction meter or water truck shall not use water unnecessarily for any purpose, other than required by regulatory agencies
- Construction projects requiring watering for new landscaping materials shall adhere to the designated non-agricultural irrigation requirements set forth above
As a reminder, the wasteful water activities below are always prohibited in the City of Riverside per the Water Conservation Ordinance regardless of shortage level or drought emergency order.
- Irrigation runoff
- Use of Hoses dispensing potable water without a shut-off nozzle
- Hosing driveways or sidewalks
- The use of potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system
- Outdoor watering during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall
- Serving drinking water other than upon request in eating/drinking establishments
- Irrigation with potable water of landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and buildings in a manner inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development
If you see water waste happening in Riverside, please visit RiversideCA.gov/311 to report the activity.
Check out our Outdoor and Indoor water rebates to support water-saving efforts and follow these additional Indoor & Outdoor Water Efficiency and Conservation tips to help stretch our water supplies further into the future.
Save Our Water & Our City of Trees
Drought conditions are expected to intensify so we need to make sure we’re using water responsibly and making every drop count. This includes prioritizing your trees. Trees are investments that would take more water, time, and money to replace if lost to drought versus keeping them alive. So, remember to give those trees the TLC they’ll need throughout the drought.
Follow these quick Tree Care Tips:
- Mulch to conserve moisture
- Newly planted trees (less than two years old) will need five gallons of water, once a week. A bucket is great for this. Water the area under the dripline.
- Young trees (less than three years old) are starting to get established and require a deep watering of ten gallons, once every two weeks under the dripline.
- Mature trees (older than 3 years) need deep watering. Water deeply within the dripline when the top six inches of soil around your mature tree has dried out or once per month.
Learn more Tree Care Tips by visiting:
After continuous dry winters and many of California’s largest reservoirs dropping to historic lows, the State of California drought conditions become more severe. Learn more about current drought status by visiting https://www.drought.gov/states/california.
Yes, trees provide multiple benefits to the community and environment. Trees should be irrigated appropriately to meet their water needs. You can find more information and resources on watering trees by visiting the following websites:
Maintaining a Healthy Landscape in a Drought | Helpful Tips (PDF)
Eastern Municipal Water District | emwd.org
Western Municipal Water District | wmwd.com/drought
Save Water and Money with RPU Rebates | RiversidePublicUtilities.com/Rebates
Save Water. Save California | SaveOurWater.com
Save Our Water and Our Trees | California ReLeaf
California Urban Forests Council | Growing Trees Make Great Communities
State Water Resources Control Board | FAQ (Updated June 6, 2022)