We are now in the fourth year of severe drought. The City of Watsonville is required by the State to reduce water use by 20% in 2015 as compared to the amount we used in 2013.  The majority of the other 400 water agencies in California have to reduce even more – 25% for most and up to 36% for some water agencies.

Last year, Watsonville residents and businesses responded to the Governor’s call for a statewide voluntary reduction of 20%.  Watsonville residents and businesses did an incredible job and achieved a 12% reduction in water use for 2014! Statewide, Californians only achieved an 8% reduction. This year, the State has shifted from a voluntary request to mandated reductions with possible fines to water agencies of $10,000 per day for failure to meet the reduction mandate. The City’s strategy to achieve the 20% reduction is to ask our residents to continue their efforts from 2014. In addition, we will install new irrigation equipment in City parks and to offer our water customers the Lawn Removal Rebate Program if they voluntarily replace their lawns with low-water and no-water options.

2016 State and City Mandates to Reduce Water Use – All Water Users

All Residents and Businesses must follow these restrictions:

  • DO NOT wash sidewalks, driveways or parking lots
  • DO repair leaks in plumbing and irrigation systems
  • DO NOT allow water to run off your property
  • DO use a shut-off nozzles on all hoses
  • DO NOT water during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall
  • DO report water waste. Call Customer Service at 768-3133 or go to
  • DO NOT operate a fountains or decorative water features unless it has a re-circulation system.
  • Sprinklers may run only before 9 am or after 5 pm

  • Follow the mandatory sprinkler watering restrictions
  • Sprinkler watering allowed for only two days per week, for 15 minutes
  • Addresses with odd numbers may water with sprinklers on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Addresses with even number s may water with sprinklers on Thursdays and Sundays

Special Requirements for Businesses

All businesses must comply with the State and City mandates.

Restaurants may serve water only upon request.

Operators of hotels and motels must provide guests with an option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily and must prominently display notices. The City will provide such notices upon request.

Cemeteries must follow the State and City-mandated restrictions.

Golf courses must follow the State and City-mandated restrictions.

Developers and contractors installing irrigation systems at any new home or building must install drip or micro spray.

New commercial car washes must install the most water efficient systems available.



Am I required to let my lawn to turn brown and die?

It is recommended that you cut back on lawn watering and allow the grass to turn green-brown or completely brown. Most brown lawns will turn green again with winter rains.  Lawn areas that are not used for recreation or pets should be considered for replacement.


Am I allowed to wash my car?

Car washing is only allowed with a hose with a shut-off nozzle. Park car on grass so wash water goes into the ground, not down the street. Consider using a commercial car wash where water gets cleaned and recycled.


Do the sprinkler watering restrictions also effect other methods of watering?

No. You may water using drip irrigation, or with a hose with a shut-off nozzle or a watering can on any day. Always direct water right to the plant roots.


When and how am I allowed to water my vegetable garden?

There are not restrictions on vegetable gardens. The restrictions apply to ornamental landscaping.


Why is there so much attention on lawns?

Grass is the thirstiest of all plants. Each square foot of irrigated lawn uses about 40 gallons of water per year. There are many beautiful alternatives, including climate-appropriate plants that use little or no water in the summer after they are established.


What should I do if I see water running off a property?

Please report water waste by calling Customer Service at 768-3133 or go to


What will the City do if I report water waste?

The City will always respond with education and technical assistance. The property owner will receive a door hanger or letter about the water waste and offers of assistance from the City. Most people respond well and fix the problem. Most want to stop the water waste and save money on their bills. It is not necessary to leave your name or number when you report water waste.


Will the City issue fines to residents and businesses?

Yes, the City does issue fines for repeated water waste.  Failure to respond after notification can result in fines starting at $50 and increasing to $500 for chronic water wasting.


What about City parks and facilities?

The City has cut water use by 20-30% and in some areas turned off the sprinklers completely for the summer. However, playing fields will be watered enough to maintain a safe environment for our local athletes. Irrigation will be done in the early morning hours. Occasional daytime sprinkler use may be observed only when City staff is testing and repairing irrigation systems.


Is the City rationing water? Is there a limit on how much I can use?

No, the City is not rationing water and there is not a limit for your home or business.  Please help the City meet the 20% State mandate by cutting back on indoor and outdoor water use.


How will the City achieve the mandatory State 20% reduction in 2015?

We are asking all water customers to continue their reductions from 2014 which resulted in a 12% decrease and cut an additional 8%. We are also updating irrigation equipment at City parks. The Lawn Replacement Rebate Program will help many residents and businesses voluntarily replace their thirsty lawns with climate-appropriate plants, permeable hardscapes or artificial turf. The City is also required by the State to stop irrigation of turf on street medians.


How can the City help me cut my water use?

Rebates are available for high-efficiency toilets, Energy Star washing machines and lawn removal. If you are not sure where to start, schedule a free consultation by a City water conservation expert. Call Customer Service at 768-3133 for more information. Rebate procedures and applications can also be found at


Is the City running out of water?

In the short term, Watsonville is better off than some water agencies, like the City of Santa Cruz that rely on rainwater to fill their reservoirs. However the Pajaro Valley’s groundwater is facing real challenges that we cannot ignore.


Will our water supply be OK once we get good winter rains?

No. We have serious local water problems. In the Pajaro Valley, the water source for both agriculture and urban users is groundwater. Rainwater seeps into the ground and is stored in the aquifer– a naturally-occurring water source in the layers of rock, sand and gravel deep underground. However, even before this drought, water users in the Pajaro Valley were pumping out more water from the aquifer than is replaced by rainfall even in very rainy years.  This means the water level in the aquifer is dropping and is now below sea level in much of the Valley. As a result, salty ocean water has seeped into the aquifer and wells along the coast are now unusable. This overdraft was first identified over 50 years ago. The City works closely with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and supports their Basin Management Plan. This Plan identifies specific local projects that, once built, are designed to eventually stop the overdraft and the intrusion of salt water into our aquifer.


What is being done to deal with the groundwater overdraft?

The Basin Management Plan outlines projects involving storage and use of winter rain water in College Lake, increased conservation by farmers, and expanded use of recycled water. For more information, go to


What about recycled water?

In partnership with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, the City built and operates the Water Recycling Facility. Highly treated waste water that used to be discharged into the ocean is now disinfected and piped to agricultural fields in the coastal area. This new water source has allowed farmers to decrease pumping of groundwater from the aquifer. As a result, we are starting to see a decline in the movement of salt water into the aquifer in the coastal area. The recycled water is used only for agriculture, not drinking water.


Why not just desalinize sea water and use it for urban and agriculture needs?

The City will monitor efforts by neighboring agencies in the possible development of a desalinization plant. However, it is projected that treated seawater would cost three times as much as our groundwater and required tremendous amounts of energy to operate. The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency’s new Basin Management Plan outlines strategies and projects that would resolve the groundwater overdraft while keeping water rates more affordable.

You can view a pdf. file of this document below:

Drought Website Text2June2015 (223.2 KiB)