Posted on: October 8, 2015

CVWD customers reduce water use 16.4% in September


Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) customers used 16.4% less water in September 2015 when compared to the same month in 2013.

"Clearly this number is far short of where we want to be. While most of our customers have made dramatic changes to conserve water and avoid fines and drought penalties, some are not making a strong enough commitment to conservation," said Jim Barrett, CVWD general manager. "We need everyone to step up to do their part during this historic drought in California."

CVWD encourages members of the public to attend its regular Board of Directors meeting Tuesday that will include an update on conservation. The board will discuss several options to meet the state mandate, including the possibility of committing more money for rebate programs and increasing drought penalties.

The state is requiring CVWD to reduce overall domestic water use by 36% when compared to the same month in 2013 or face penalties of up to $10,000 per day. The state considers a month-to-month rolling average when evaluating a district's conservation efforts. CVWD customers saved 21.3% in June, 40.6% in July and 26.5% in August, an average over the four-month period of 26.2%.

"We want to hear everyone's ideas on how to achieve more savings," Barrett said. "We will need to further ramp up our education and enforcement efforts to meet the state mandate."

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Steve Robbins Administration Building, 75515 Hovley Lane East in Palm Desert.

To date, CVWD has asked customers to limit water use to 36% below their monthly outdoor water budget. This new, temporary drought budget rewards customers who have already taken steps to significantly reduce water use, such as replacing grass with desert landscaping, because they will likely already be below this threshold.

CVWD customers who fail to limit outdoor water use to 36% below their monthly budget are subject to drought penalties. These penalties went into effect with July bills. About 76% of CVWD customers are meeting the new drought budgets.

The CVWD board also adopted the state's mandatory water-use restrictions, plus additional restrictions and recommendations for increased conservation. Customers who violate water-use restrictions can be liable for fines on their bill starting at $50 and up to $200. A "water school" was developed to help educate violators how to reduce water use. Attending the school is optional in lieu of paying the first fine, but also is open to non-violators wanting to learn more about conservation. The first water school was held Oct. 3.

CVWD has encouraged conservation through a variety of means including print, radio and television advertising; media interviews; direct mail pieces, door hangers, fact sheets and flyers; speaking engagements and attendance at community events; newsletter columns in partner publications; billboards and social media. Some of this outreach was conducted in Spanish.

Conservation successes include the popularity of CVWD's turf rebate program. District customers have removed about 6.6 million square feet of grass since the program started.

Specifically, in the month of September alone, CVWD:

  • Installed 45 residential smart controllers and rebated 50 large landscape controllers
  • Approved 277,884 square feet of turf removal
  • Conducted plan check on 30 landscape plans
  • Issued 56 toilet rebates
  • Contacted 50 customers in high tiers
  • Completed eight water broom/pre-rinse nozzle conversions
  • Contacted 6,231 customers and completed 336 site visits
  • Investigated 104 water waste complaints

The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

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