City of Sacramento logoThe Sacramento City Council on Aug. 24 voted to declare a “Water Alert,” which increases fines for wasting water, restricts car washing and asks residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent – an increase from the 10-percent reduction already in place.

A Water Alert is the second of six stages in the City’s plan to reduce overall water usage during a water shortage.

The Council action comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Regional Water Authority recently called for water-use reductions as the state and region continue to experience severe drought conditions.

“With the conditions that we’ve seen this year, we expected much greater inflows into Folsom Reservoir coming out of last winter’s snowpack. They didn’t materialize because of excessive heat and very dry soil that absorbed an awful lot of water,” said Councilmember Jeff Harris. “I don’t think anybody expected us to be in this severe of drought … .”

Fines for wasting water have doubled and now range from $50 to $1000.

“Fines are only issued for egregious violations of water running down the street and flooding the gutters etc.,” said Roshini Das, City Department of Utilities sustainability manager.

Washing cars is restricted to a person’s watering day from the City’s watering schedule, and people must use a shut-off nozzle, officials said.

People with even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesday and Sunday. People with odd-numbered addresses can water on Tuesday and Saturday.

The Council action also approved an additional $1.8 million for the City’s water-conservation rebates.

“Since we doubled water-conservation rebates in July, we’ve received hundreds of applications for projects like converting grass to drought-tolerant landscapes or upgrading faucets and fixtures,” said Das. “The increase in funding will help us continue to incentivize customers to make water conservation a way of life.”

The City has created a webpage with information on the drought, including how people can save water and conservation rebates.