Calif. American Water Asks Customers to Conserve

Due to the ongoing drought conditions in the state, California American Water announced March 3, that it has implemented a voluntary water conservation program aimed at reducing water usage for its Southern California operations, which include its service areas in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura counties, and encourages all consumers -- residential, business and other customer classifications -- to help reduce water use in the community by voluntarily ending non-essential or unauthorized water use.

California American Water's voluntary program is the first step in what could lead to mandatory water conservation measures if voluntary efforts are unsuccessful in stabilizing California's water supply. The measures were deemed necessary as the state heads into the critical summer months of what might be the most severe drought year in California's recorded history, according to the Department of Water Resources.

"Given the likelihood of yet another troubled water supply year, California American Water wants to help its customers reduce water use and understand the importance of wise water practices," said California American Water's General Manager Todd Brown. "Due to the critical state of the water supply in California, we are joining other local and regional water agencies' call, and are encouraging our customers to conserve right away, in advance of possible additional measures that may need to be implemented in the near future."

The company issued its voluntary program in accordance with its Rule 14.1, which has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The California Public Utilities Commission authorizes water utilities to implement a voluntary conservation program when the utility determines that water supplies may be insufficient to meet customer demands. California American Water encourages all consumers to voluntarily end "non-essential or unauthorized water uses" that include:

1. Use of water through any connection when the utility has notified the customer in writing to repair a broken or defective plumbing, sprinkler, watering, or irrigation system, and the customer has failed to make such repairs within five days after receipt of such notice.

2. Use of water that results in flooding or run-off in gutters, waterways, patios, driveway, or streets.

3. Use of water for washing aircraft, cars, buses, boats, trailers, or other vehicles without a positive shut-off nozzle on the outlet end of the hose. Exceptions include washing vehicles at commercial or fleet vehicle washing facilities operated at fixed locations where equipment using water is properly maintained to avoid wasteful use.

4. Use of water through a hose for washing buildings, structures, sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas in a manner which results in excessive run-off or waste.

5. Use of water for watering streets with trucks, except for initial wash-down for construction purposes (if street sweeping is not feasible), or to protect the health and safety of the public.

6. Use of water for construction purposes, such as consolidation of backfill, dust control, or other uses unless no other source of water or other method can be used.

7. Use of water for more than minimal landscaping in connection with any new construction.

8. Use of water for outside plants, lawn, landscape, and turf areas more often than every other day, with even numbered addresses watering on even numbered days of the month and odd numbered addresses watering on the odd numbered days of the month, except that this provision shall not apply to commercial nurseries, golf courses, and other water-dependent industries.

9. Use of water for watering outside plants and turf areas using a hand-held hose without a positive shut-off valve.

10. Use of water for decorative fountains or the filling or topping off of decorative lakes or ponds. Exceptions are made for those decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds that use utilize recycled water.

11. Use of water for the filling or refilling of swimming pools.

12. Service of water by any restaurant except upon the request of the patron.

"If we all work together we can potentially avoid mandatory conservation measures or rationing and help ensure there is enough water for everyone, including families, farmers, schools, and businesses," Brown said.

California American Water will make conservation kits available to all of its customers and will also conduct a series of public outreach campaigns, starting with bill messages to appear in every customer bill, alerting them of the voluntary conservation order.

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