Tight Grip Maintained on SM’s Water Spigots

Although the Sierra Nevada snowpack received a promising dump this past winter, and the reservoirs in the northern reaches of California were topped up nicely, the El Niño effect that was expected to give Southern California a historic drenching missed its mark and strayed far to the north. The ramifications for San Marino residents are that watering restrictions enacted by the city last year remain fully in force.
“It’s the whole idea of making conservation a way of life,” said Ron Serven, the city’s environmental services manager. “Although the water supply situation seems to be getting better because of the snowpack, there’s still the need to manage our landscapes in an efficient manner — controlling runoff, grouping plants that have similar watering requirements, putting in plants that are more adaptable to extreme conditions — because in the future we don’t know what the long-term drought still might look like.
“One year’s not going to make a difference. Even longer term, there have been concerns about longer periods of drought. If we go back to our own way of thinking — ‘We’re out of the woods and we can go back to not really worrying about how often and how long we water our landscapes’ — it could create problems down the road.”
Thus, as the summer begins to heat up, San Marino residents remain limited to two days of sprinkler irrigation per week — odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays and Fridays, even-numbered addresses on Mondays and Thursdays. Watering stations are limited to 15 minutes per day, and no sprinkler irrigation is permitted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Excessive runoff is not allowed.
The city will continue its rigorous enforcement of these measures, issuing warnings and then writing citations that begin at $100 and rise for subsequent offenses.
The state Water Resources Control Board announced last week that residents reduced their water use by an encouraging 28% statewide in May but emphasized that it is vital for conservation to continue.
“The phenomenal ongoing water conservation by state residents as we enter the hottest summer months clearly shows Californians understand we remain in stubborn drought conditions statewide and that saving water is just the smart thing to do,” state Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus said in a statement. “Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state-mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving. While conditions improved for urban California’s water supply with the rain and snow we got last year, we are still largely in drought, and saving water can extend urban water supplies off into the future if this next winter is dry again.”
The agency reported that despite near-average rainfall in much of Northern California this past winter, 60% of the state remains in severe or extreme drought — the fifth straight season of that condition. Groundwater basins and many reservoirs remain badly depleted.
Locally, Serven cautioned residents not to ignore their trees as they reduce their watering of ornamental landscapes to a trickle.
“Ground covers can be replaced relatively easily, vs. 100-year-old trees that are going to get hit hard,” Serven said. “You need to get the tree through the summer heat. If it is stressed, it is going to be vulnerable to some of those insect infestations that we’re having.”
The city website, ci.san-marino.ca.us, includes comprehensive tips for caring for trees during drought. They can be found at ci.san-marino.ca.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=133 or by visiting the City News section of the home page and clicking on “view all.” Serven noted that drip irrigation systems, adept at getting water to tree roots, are not subject to the 15-minute watering limit of sprinklers.
San Marino’s water restrictions can be reviewed at ci.san-marino.ca.us/776/Water. Residents who wish to report examples of water waste in their neighborhoods may download the GORequest mobile app. Information is available on the home page of the city website.

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