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Drought Information

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Photo Credit: Petaluma360 | Autor de la foto: Petaluma360


California has been experiencing two consecutive years of low precipitation and, as a result, our reservoir and groundwater levels are significantly below average. In fact, we just experienced the third driest water year (October 2019 - September 2020) on record in the last 127 years! 

Please take a few moments to review the information below about the drought and Petaluma’s plan to conserve water, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. 

If you would like additional information, or have questions regarding water conservation and current and ongoing water use prohibitions, please call the Water Conservation line at (707) 778-4507 or email [email protected].



Yes. In April 2021, both Governor Newsom and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors declared a drought emergency in Sonoma County. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) reported that 95% of California is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions and has called upon all water users to begin saving water.


Periodic droughts are a part of life in California. Because of this, Petaluma has a multi-stage Water Shortage Contingency Plan (Plan) ready to go when drought conditions, like those we are experiencing now, arise.  

At this time, the City has enacted Stage 1 of the Plan. This stage is designed to help save water through voluntary conservation efforts from our community coupled with mandatory water use restrictions. These include: 

  1. Voluntary 20% citywide reduction in water usage. 
  2. Water served in restaurants on request only. 
  3. No use of potable water (tap water) for washing down pavement, except for health and safety purposes including sanitation. 
  4. Landscape irrigation encouraged between the hours of 8pm and 6am. 
  5. Water users are reminded to fix leaks and eliminate water waste (this step is required even when we are not in a drought, per Petaluma Municipal Code) 

There are many ways you can help conserve water - and many City programs and incentives to help you do so! Over 10,000 Petaluma residents are already taking advantage of our free water conservation rebates and resources.  Learn more HERE.


The City offers complimentary water-saving devices for faucets, hoses, and showers. Click here to read a list of devices and where to find them.


Learn about special rebates for high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers. You can save gallons of water each day while saving money on new fixtures and appliances.


Whether it's an undetected leak or an over-watered lawn, water waste hurts us all. Learn how to spot water waste and how to let us know it's happening.

More Ways to Save Water

Get free advice on how to save water at home and at work. A water conservation expert will look at your property--inside and out--and tell you how to improve. Learn more here.

FAQ's About Drought Measures in Petaluma

On May 3, 2021, the City Council implemented Stage 1 of Petaluma’s 2015 Water Shortage Contingency Plan that includes voluntary reductions and required restrictions.  

The City Council is requesting a voluntary 20% reduction in citywide water use in Stage 1. 

Effective May 3, 2021, Stage 1 required water use restrictions include:  

  • Water served in restaurants on request only. 
  • No application of potable water for washing down pavement, except for health and safety, including sanitation. 
  • Landscape irrigation encouraged between the hours of 8pm and 6am. 
  • Water users are reminded to fix leaks and eliminate water waste.

No.  The 20% reduction target for Petaluma is Citywide.  Petaluma shall reduce its overall water use by 20% compared to the average of 2018-2020 consumption.  Petaluma’s target is not applied to each individual customer, but to the City as a whole.  Individual water customers are asked to conserve water, comply with mandated restrictions, take advantage of the City’s water conservation rebate programs, and eliminate and report water waste.

Stage 1 will be in place until water supply levels recover or until water shortage conditions become worse and the City implements Stage 2 or higher of the WSCP to reduce the gap in water supply and customer water use.

The City of Petaluma offers many programs, rebates, and resources to help Petaluma residents save water. For information on any of the below programs, rebates, or to request any items, please call 707-778-4507 or email [email protected] 

Water Saving Rebates: 

  • Residential High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) rebates – If you have a toilet that flushes 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or more you can qualify for up to a $150 rebate to replace your older toilet with a HET. For more information, please visit: CityofPetaluma.org/Toilets 
  • Commercial High-Efficiency Toilet and Urinal rebates – Businesses can qualify for up to a $260 rebate for each older bathroom fixture that is replaced with a high-efficiency toilet or urinal.  Please call 707-778-4507 or email [email protected] for more information.  
  • High- Efficiency clothes washer rebates – Replace a top- loading clothes washer with a qualifying front- loading washer and receive a $75 rebate. For information on qualifying washers and a rebate application please visit: CityofPetaluma.org/Washers 

Water Saving Programs: 

  • Mulch Madness Program – A free turf replacement program for residents and businesses who want to transform their water thirsty lawns to a drought tolerant mulched landscape. This program includes free sheet mulching supplies (compost, cardboard, mulch) and delivery, as well as irrigation conversion kits for residential accounts. To learn how to qualify please visit: CityofPetaluma.org/Mulch 
  • Water-Wise HouseCall Program – This is a personalized program to help you use water more efficiently both inside and outside your home. With each Water-Wise HouseCall, a trained water efficiency professional will assess your current water usage and outline the best and most practical ways to maximize water savings. Due to Covid-19 restrictions our conservation staff cannot enter homes but can help with outdoor areas (irrigation checks, water schedules, check your meter) and also walk you through how to do an indoor leak inspection. Water-Wise HouseCalls can be performed in-person or on the phone. For more information, please visit: CityofPetaluma.org/WaterWise 
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Leak Kits – Learn how to check for leaks in your home with a FREE DIY Leak Kit. Each kit includes easy to use instructions, a practical plumbing handbook, toilet dye tablets, and more. Available to Petaluma water customers by request, kits delivered contact-free weekly. For more information, please visit: CityofPetaluma.org/free-water-conservation-devices

Turning off your irrigation, or significantly reducing your irrigation is an easy way to have big water savings. If you are unable to stop irrigating your landscape,  the following steps can help with reducing outdoor water use: 

  • Thoroughly check your irrigation system to ensure there are no breaks, leaks, or water waste occurring when it is on or off.  
  • Schedule your irrigation to run between 8pm and 6am to reduce evaporation. Do not water between the hours of 6am to 8pm. 
  • Reassess your irrigation program weekly. Turn off irrigation in cool weather or when it rains.  
  • Use shorter run times to allow water to fully soak into the landscape and to reduce runoff.
  • Use mulch to retain moisture. 
  • Hand water when needed instead of using an automatic irrigation system.  
  • For free weekly irrigation schedule recommendations, please visit srcity.org/3446/Watering-Recommendations

Petaluma purchases water from Sonoma Water. For more information on Sonoma Water supply and water shortage reservoirs levels, please visit sonomawater.org/drought.

We encourage residents to report water waste in their area. Common examples of water waste are from irrigation systems such as: broken irrigation, overspray, run-off, and improper timing. If you see water waste, please let us know. To report water waste please call 707-778-4507 or email [email protected] 

For large leaks and water emergencies please call 707-778-4546. 

You can also report these issues as well as others online at cityofpetaluma.org/issues

If you know where the leak is, call a professional or fix the leak in a timely manner. According to the EPA, 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more a day. Common leaks include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. Fixing these leaks or hiring someone to help you can save you at least 10% on your water bill and save water from being wasted. 

If you do not know where the leak is coming from the best place to start is to check your water meter. For step by step instructions on how to check your meter, please click HERE

The following water use restrictions are enforced year-round. For a complete list of water use restrictions please refer to the Petaluma Municipal Code (Petaluma Municipal Code) Section 15.17.070.  

  • Washing of hard-surfaced areas by direct hosing unless equipped with a shutoff nozzle. 
  • Escape of water through breaks or leaks within the customer’s plumbing or private distribution system for any substantial period of time. 
  • Irrigation in a manner or to the extent that allows runoff of water or over-spray of the areas being irrigated. 
  • Washing cars, boats, trailers, or other vehicles, equipment, and machinery directly with a hose not equipped with a hose-end shutoff nozzle. 
  • Irrigating landscape during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall. 
  • The irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians. 
  • Using water for non-recycling water features. 
  • Swimming Pool and Spa Covers – Outdoor swimming pools and spas are to be covered during non-business hours or while not in use. 

Violation Procedure (Petaluma Municipal Code Section 15.17.100) 

  1. Customers in violation of Stage 1 requirements or PMC Chapter 15.17 will receive a written or verbal warning and order that the violation be corrected within a reasonable time. Seventy-two hours from notice of violation shall be considered a reasonable time for correction. 
  2. The City may install a flow-restricting device on the service line. 
  3. The City may levy a water waste fine to the customer. 
  4. The City may shut off water service and charge customer for reconnection. Service shall not be reinstated until verified by the City that the violation has been corrected and all charges and fees have been paid.

The population of California (like the rest of the world) is growing. In order to ensure there is enough housing for everyone to live affordably, the State of California determines projected population numbers then estimates how many housing units must be created to meet the housing demand. The State then calls upon cities to help, allocating each city a number of housing units they must create to support the growing population (this is known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation). 

Simply put, Petaluma, like all other cities in California, is required by the State to create housing units. The number of units changes as the State’s population projections change, but we must always follow their direction or we run the risk of the State revoking our land use powers – which would mean the State could decide what can and cannot be built here. 

Petaluma’s General Plan and Urban Water Management Plan help us project and prepare for future water use, including use associated with new housing units. We plan far in advance and have back-up plans in place for droughts, which is a recurring condition in our region. Some of these back-up plans include calling on our community to help conserve water, expanding treatment and distribution of recycled water, and reliance on groundwater supplies when surface water allocations are curtailed. 

Furthermore, to assure that the City of Petaluma has sufficient water supplies to meet increased water demand, the General Plan (Petaluma’s roadmap for growth) requires routine monitoring of water supplies against actual use and evaluation for each new development project (Policy 8-P-4). 

Additionally, all new development is subject to the latest building code standards, which require water efficiency for indoor and outdoor water uses. The City also imposes a Landscape Water Use Efficiency Ordinance, which minimizes water use for irrigation.   

We are currently updating our 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP). You can view our Final 2015 UWMP and the Draft 2020 UWMP and Water Shortage Contingency here: City of Petaluma Water Delivery and Quality – Learn More. 

The City Council will hold a public hearing on May 17, 2021 to receive public comment on the updated Draft 2020 UWMP.

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