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Green Tips

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In response to the Governor’s Executive Order to reduce water use, the State of California Department of Water Resources is working on rolling out the 2015 Turf Replacement Initiative.  The details can be found here:  

The overview is that the DWR is working on a turf replacement program that has three parts to it:  

1.        Residential Turf Rebate Program

2.       Commercial, Institutional and industrial Turf Program (CII)

3.       Statewide Campaign to Promote Drought-Tolerant Landscapes.  

There is $25 million dollars available in funding rebates for lawn replacements and $10 million of that is earmarked specifically for the San Joaquin Valley – that encompasses the City of Merced and surrounding valley!  $12 million is for the rest of the state and $3 million for the CII facilities.   

The applications are expected to be available in August, so if you are thinking about making these changes, check out the website.  If you want to qualify for the rebate, don’t remove the lawn just yet, wait until you apply in August, for now, start researching drought tolerant landscape options.  You can also attend a workshop on residential landscape conversions sponsored by the Department of Water Resources and the California Native Plant Society, for information on a workshop call 916-447-2677 ext. 207 or e-mail breilly  

For more information on drought tolerant landscape, call the Master Gardeners at 385-7403.  Or for questions on the Turf Replacement Initiative Click Here or call the City of Merced water conservation at 385-8892.

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Merced Council approves water meters for all residents

For immediate release

 Soon everyone in the City of Merced will have a water meter. The City Council unanimously approved an emergency resolution Wednesday night to buy water meters for the 10,800 residential customers that don’t have meters.

City officials estimate that the installation of water meters will save between 20 to 28 percent of the annual water used in Merced. The state has ordered the City to reduce water consumption by 36 percent by February 28, 2016. The City pumps approximately 24 million gallons of water a day from its 23 wells.

The City will spend an estimated $330 per meter for a total of $3,564,000. The meters will be delivered in approximately 10 shipments over the next year. The City standardized its water meter system to Badger brand meters in 2009.

All commercial water users in the City have water meters and about half of the residential water customers already have meters. Staff has determined that unmetered households, on average, use almost twice as much water as a metered home during the year.

Staff is working on a plan to determine where the meters will first begin getting installed.

The City has been active in its efforts to conserve water for decades. It cut back outside watering to two days last year, long before the state issued its regulations on outdoor watering.

The City hired a water conservation specialist in 2011 year to educate the residents and enforce its water ordinances. It is hiring additional staff for the next budget year starting in July to help with its education and enforcement efforts.

The City had its first water conservation ordinances in place in 1992 when it established its first odd-even outdoor watering schedule and other water-saving measures.

How to Save Water 101  

*    Use drip irrigation for trees, shrubs, and flowers; saves 15 gallons/each time you water.  
*    Plant drought-resistant trees and plants; saves 30-60 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq ft.  
*    Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios; saves 8-18 gallons/minute.  
*    Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust so that you don’t have run-off; saves 15 gallons/each time you water.  
*    Place a layer of organic mulch around trees and plants, it helps reduce evaporation and prevents weeds; saves 20-30 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft.  
*    Turn off the shower water while washing your hair; saves up to 150 gallons a month.  
*    Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth or shaving; saves 10 gallons/day.  
*    Install faucet aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce the flows to less than 1 gallon per minute.  
*    Keep toilets and water fixtures in good repair and fix leaks promptly.  
*    A new water efficient dishwasher can save 3-8 gallons per load.  

For more water efficient practices, check out  To report water being wasted, call 388-SAVE.  Or check us out at or Like us on Facebook at City of Merced: Water Conservation.

Greener Tomorrow

February is well underway, are you used to writing 2015 yet?  What other things are you trying to get used to in the new year? I was hoping to see more rain, but dry times continue.  What are you doing to help conserve? I challenge you all to think about a greener tomorrow through your own conservation efforts.  You may be tempted to start to water your lawn because of the continued lack of rain, but don’t do it.  I haven’t watered the lawn since October and it’s still a pale green. It’s alive and usually very wet in the morning from the dew and fog. 

If you are thinking the same thing, contemplating whether to water or not, let another couple of weeks go by.  If you feel you must water, keep a close eye on how much you water.  Our lawns can only accept so much water before it becomes saturated and the water flows off the top and down the gutter.  Water that goes in the gutter is a waste and it carries pollutants to our creeks and waterways.  Water run-off is a sign, you’ve watered too long or watered the sidewalk not the lawn.

Take the time to re-learn how to use your sprinkler timers if you’ve got them.  Most programmable timer manufacturers have detailed instructions on their websites and some even have short You Tube videos on how to reprogram.  Let’s all keep working on a “greener” tomorrow, we’ve all got to do our part during this drought.   

For questions on water conservation, call the City of Merced at 385-6800.  Or to report water being wasted, call 388-SAVE.

Watering Schedule

Addresses ending in 2, 4, 6, 8, or 0, Water on Tuesdays & Saturdays

Addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9, Water on Wednesdays & Sundays

And the window of hours to water are midnight to 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. to midnight; the best time for your lawn is early in the morning. 

Remember to turn off the sprinklers when it rains.

For more information or questions, check out the City’s website at or call the Public Works Water Department at 385-6800.  And keep your eye on these Green Tips articles for future water savings advice and information.

To report water being wasted call 388-SAVE.

How to Read Your Meter

Your water meter can tell you a lot of useful information.  You can use your meter to monitor your water use and to check for leaks.  It’s a good idea to check around your property for any cracked pipes and leaky sprinklers.

Water Meter Face

First locate your water meter, which should be in the front yard, either in the grass or side walk.  The lid will say WATER on it and it will have a notch where you can insert a long screw driver to pop the lid up.  Be careful when removing and replacing the lid, you don’t want to drop the lid on your foot or on the top of the meter!  The top of your meter will look like the photo.

Each full turn of the red dial is 1 cubic foot which is equal to 7.48 gallons.  In the City of Merced, your base water rate includes 30 hcf (hundred cubic feet) or 22,400 gallons of water per month. You can use more that 30 hcf of water, but it will cause your bill to increase.  The little blue dial is a low flow indicator and will move even when you have a small leak.  If all water inside and outside of your house is turned off completely and you check your meter, it should be perfectly still; unless you have a leak, then you will see the little blue dial moving. 

The water odometer, records water use like a car odometer will record miles.  The odometer records water use in cubic feet.  The digits from the right represent 1 cubic foot, 10 cubic feet, and 100 cubic feet respectfully.  You can tell how much water is being used if you write down your meter odometer’s full number, then come back the next week or month later and record that number.  Subtract the first number recorded from the most recent and that will tell you how many cubic feet have been used during that time frame.  You can convert it to gallons by multiplying that number by 7.48; then you will know how many gallons that you used during that time frame.  You can divide that number by the amount of days in between your recordings to find out an average of how many gallons per day you are using.  And if you find that you have a leak, fix it right away.  Leaking pipes are like money down the drain and simply a waste of our precious resource. 

For more information on how to read your water meter, you can contact me at the Public Works department, 385-6800.

Public Works - Water Conservation
Section UL
Watering Schedule 2014
File Name: 2014 Double sided insert-MULTI-LANG - drought.pdf
Revision Date: 5/8/2014
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