MANDATORY WATER CONSERVATION.  LEARN MORE.

Drought Information

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HAGA CLIC AQUÍ PARA ESPAÑOL

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].

ARE WE OFFICIALLY IN A DROUGHT? 

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.

On Sept. 13, 2021, our City Council passed a resolution proclaiming a Local Drought Emergency in Petaluma. This proclamation empowers the City to access resources that would not otherwise be available to help address the current extreme drought conditions, access help from outside agencies, and open us to reimbursement for emergency costs.

Drought 5_5

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PETALUMA?

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.  

We are now in Stage 4 of this plan, designed to reduce our city’s water usage by 30% through mandatory water use restrictions.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS FOR ALL WATER CUSTOMERS

  • Limited outdoor watering schedule reduced to two times per week week –  overnight Tuesday and Saturday from 7:00 pm. to 8:00 am.
  • Irrigation rules can be changed by the City Manager, if needed.
  • All hoses must be equipped with a hose-end nozzle.
  • 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) 
  • No washing down pavement with potable water, except sanitation.
  • No vehicle washing at home – commercial car washes only.
  • No operating ornamental water fountains and water features.
  • No filling new pools or spas.
  • No topping off existing pools and spas. Pool and spa covers are required by the Petaluma municipal code to be covered during non-business hours or while not in use.
  • No planting of new or existing landscapes that require water.
  • New development to withhold landscape installation until further notice.

COMMERCIAL

  • Water served in restaurants by request only.
  • Operators of hotels and motels to provide guest with option of choosing to have towels and linens laundered daily.
  • Frequency and type of landscape irrigation with potable water at parks, golf courses, landscape assessment districts, schools, medians, and frontages to be determined by City Manager.
  • Street sweepers must use recycled water for street cleaning.

CONSTRUCTION

  • Recycled water must be used for dust control when available.
  • Number of recycled water haulers permitted to use recycled water for purposes other than construction to be determined by City Manager.
  • Potable water meters for construction limited to use for water line hydrostatic testing and chlorination. Water meters for construction will be evaluated on case-by-case basis.

AGRICULTURE

  • No new water hauler accounts permitted to purchase potable water (or as determined by City Manager.)
  • Current potable water hauler accounts will not be allowed to haul more than current allocation, and load accounts will be monitored for monthly usage.
  • No new potable water hauler customers will be permitted (or as determined by City Manager.) The Santa Rosa Plain Drought Resiliency Project is exempt from this provision.

 

HOW DO I REDUCE MY WATER USAGE? 

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.

FREE WATER SAVING TOOLS

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.

WATER REBATES

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.

SAVE WATER, SAVE TREES

Did you know it takes decades for a tree to mature and only weeks for grass to grow? Please prioritize watering the trees around your home instead of your lawn and other plants. Learn more here.

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

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS FOR ALL WATER CUSTOMERS
  • Limited outdoor watering schedule reduced to two times a week –  overnight Tuesday and Saturday from 7:00 pm. to 8:00 am.
  • Irrigation rules can be changed by the City Manager, if needed.
  • All hoses must be equipped with a hose-end nozzle.
  • 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) 
  • No washing down pavement with potable water, except sanitation.
  • No vehicle washing at home – commercial car washes only.
  • No operating ornamental water fountains and water features.
  • No filling new pools or spas.
  • No topping off existing pools and spas. Pool and spa covers are required by the Petaluma municipal code to be covered during non-business hours or while not in use.
  • No planting of new or existing landscapes that require water.
  • New development to withhold landscape installation until further notice.
COMMERCIAL
  • Water served in restaurants by request only.
  • Operators of hotels and motels to provide guest with option of choosing to have towels and linens laundered daily.
  • Frequency and type of landscape irrigation with potable water at parks, golf courses, landscape assessment districts, schools, medians, and frontages to be determined by City Manager.
  • Street sweepers must use recycled water for street cleaning.
CONSTRUCTION
  • Recycled water must be used for dust control when available.
  • Number of recycled water haulers permitted to use recycled water for purposes other than construction to be determined by City Manager.
  • Potable water meters for construction limited to use for water line hydrostatic testing and chlorination. Water meters for construction will be evaluated on case-by-case basis.
AGRICULTURE
  • No new water hauler accounts permitted to purchase potable water (or as determined by City Manager.)
  • Current potable water hauler accounts will not be allowed to haul more than current allocation, and load accounts will be monitored for monthly usage.
  • No new potable water hauler customers will be permitted (or as determined by City Manager.) The Santa Rosa Plain Drought Resiliency Project is exempt from this provision.

No. The 30% reduction target for Petaluma is Citywide.  Petaluma shall reduce its overall water use by 30% compared to the average of 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 4 will be in place until water supply levels recover or until water shortage conditions become worse and the City implements Stage 5 or higher of the WSCP to reduce the gap in water supply and customer water use.

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.  
  • Set your irrigation to only run between the new restricted watering schedule: overnight Tuesday and Saturday between 7pm and 8am. 
  • 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 during non-drought periods, please visit srcity.org/3446/Watering-Recommendations

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

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 contact the Water Department at (707) 778-4546 and one of our Water Customer Service Representatives can check your meter for leaks.  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. 

These mandates will be enforced and violations are subject to fines of up to $1,000. Please see our violation procedure and fine schedules below (Petaluma Municipal Code Section 15.17.100).

  1. Customers in violation of Stage 4 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. 1st violation: $100, 2nd violation: $500, 3rd violation, $1,000
  4. The City may shut off water service and charge the 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 Stage 4 Drought Mandates are in effect beginning9/13/21.

You may notice some parks around town turning brown while some stay green. Why?

  • We have turned off water at 26+ of our highest usage parks (these will turn brown)
  • We have drastically reduced use at many parks to conserve water while preserving trees (grass at these parks may remain partially green)
  • We are utilizing recycled water to irrigate 5 parks (these parks will stay green)

Some water agencies are offering their recycled water to residential customers. Unfortunately, Petaluma is not able to do that at this time. 

Petaluma’s recycled water program is fully contracted to long-term, existing customers that provide a critical service to the City during wet years. Implementing a residential program would involve adjusting our program, getting approvals from oversight bodies, and then expanding our plant to generate more recycled water. This process would take many months, if not years.

With this in mind, we encourage our residential water customers to try other ways to reduce their landscape water use, while still keeping their garden and (hopefully, drought-tolerant) yards looking beautiful. This includes putting in an efficient drip irrigation system, watering in the evening or early morning, and choosing plant varieties that need less water.

Petaluma’s recycled water program does not currently offer service to residential customers. The recycled water we do create is fully contracted to long-term existing customers that provide a critical service to the City during wet years. To implement a residential program, we would first have to adjust our program, get approvals from oversight bodies, and expand our plant to generate more recycled water. However, we can provide advice and support to help our residents maintain their landscaping during the mandatory water restrictions.

Power washing your home is allowed under the current Stage 4 water restriction mandates. Washing down pavement, however, is currently prohibited.
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