Starving lawns were given a reprieve by the Los Banos City Council on Wednesday when councilmembers voted to increase the landscape watering schedule from two to three days per week.
Effective Thursday, homeowners with odd-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Even-numbered homes can be watered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Mondays are still no-watering days.
Watering times on those days will remain between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m.
Previously, homeowners were not permitted to water their yards on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The change was added on the request of councilmembers concerned with the effects twice-a-week watering was having to the city’s yards.
“I found two days a week has allowed people to neglect landscaping and not water,” Councilmember Deborah Lewis said.
When asked by councilmembers if the new water schedule would hinder the city’s ability to meet their set water conservation goals in 2020, Public Works Director Mark Fachin said the numbers may be close.
Lewis brought up the watering schedule during a discussion on an update to the city’s water efficient landscape ordinance.
The ordinance complies with state mandates and regulations regarding water usage, City Council attorney Bill Vaughn said.
“There was a significant change in the calculations of water budgets” on the part of the state, Vaughn said, noting that the mandates were separate from the city’s watering schedule.
The ordinance change reduces the threshold upon which the new state mandates apply from 2,500 square feet to 500 square feet of landscaping.
That means new yards and commercial landscaping of 500 square feet or more are required to reduce the landscape area containing “high-water” plants, such as turf, from about 33 percent to 25 percent of the total landscaped area.
Existing yards are not required to conform to the new mandates unless there is a significant re-landscaping project. The same goes for existing commercial projects.
“It’s triggered by a need for a design review permit,” Vaughn said, replying to Baskin Robbins owner Kathy Ballard, who asked what types of permits might force businesses to comply with the new state mandates.
Those mandates include installing efficient irrigation systems, including dedicated landscape water meters for residences with 5,000 square feet or more of landscaping, and 1,000 square feet or more fro non-residential landscapes.
Flow sensors that report high-flow conditions due to broken watering equipment are mandated for qualifying yards. And the minimum turf width for yards with sprinklers was extended from eight feet to 10 feet to eliminate water runoff into sewers.
New, budding lawns, ground coverings, bedding plants or reseeded lawns can be watered every day before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m. for a period of one year from the planting date if it conforms with mandated guidelines.
“This is a state mandate, the state’s regulations,” Councilmember Scott Silveira said. “We’re just implementing them into a cleaner system.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed to clarify watering is only allowed between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562