Whether it’s raining outside or not, Californians know that a drought may be right around the corner. As the 1989-1993 drought and the current historic drought have shown, using water wisely is for everyone. Local and statewide rules and regulations help guide everyone to use water more wisely for both personal and business use. Following water usage rules and guidelines has added benefits of reducing strain on natural resources, which helps our local eco-system weather conditions now and in the future.

Water Usage Rules and Regulations for Residents

Despite improved water supply conditions, water use restrictions remain. Locally, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is maintaining its call for 20% conservation. The State Water Resources Control Board also extended their existing water conservation regulations.

Watering Rules. In the San Jose area, be sure to limit hand watering or sprinkler use to before 10 in the morning and after eight at night. This is when water is least likely to be wasted by evaporation. Landscape watering can occur only on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday if you reside at an odd-numbered address, and Tuesday, Friday and Sunday for even-numbered addresses. Be sure to check your water sprinkler to make sure the settings are right for your home or business.

Irrigation Constraints. The State Water Resources Control Board has permanently prohibited watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48 hours of measurable rain.

The reason? Watering and irrigating saturated ground leads to waste because water can’t be absorbed. Runoff wastes water in an entirely different way. Precious water resources wasted on runoff often ends up in the street, picking up pollutants along the way and distributing water to areas where it is not needed.

Washing Limitations. Use tap water for bathing, washing dishes and doing the laundry, but not for washing impervious areas like driveways, sidewalks or other hard-surfaced, non-porous areas. If you’re going to wash the car, local and statewide regulations require an automatic shutoff nozzle on the hose to minimize water use.

Maintenance Requirements. Untreated leaks can waste gallons of water within a short period of time. During the current drought, San Jose Water requires residents to fix all home leaks within five days after being notified.  

Water Usage Rules and Regulations for Businesses

If you run a business, it’s important to know the water usage rules and regulations that apply to residents also apply businesses, with additional guidelines per industry.

Construction. Those in construction should note that the use of potable (i.e., drinking) water for certain activities is forbidden on job sites. This includes using tap water for washing streets, backfill, and dust control unless no other source or other method can be used. Alternative water sources include recycled water.

Restaurants. While a tall glass of water used to be a standard greeting for guests of restaurants, many times the drink went untouched. New California water rules state that water should be provided upon request only.  

Hotels and Motels. Lodging services provide the comforts of home away from home, but they previously used water in ways avoided by even the most fastidious residents. Hotels and motels alike are now required to provide a clearly posted choice for guests to avoid washing linens and towels daily. Many opt to reuse clean towels and linens for a few days before requesting a wash, which saves money and reduces the cost of operations.