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Water Wise News
Water Wise Rules Still the Norm
Despite information provided by various media outlets, the State of California’s drought restrictions are still in place, however they have changed since the Governor's initial Executive Order. In May 2015, there was a blanket conservation measure statewide, this put Merced in a 36% mandatory water reduction. Last month the Governor revised his order and issued a new one going into effect June to the end of January 2017.
Now the current restrictions are based on geography and individual water district needs. We do not have a mandatory % of water that we have to save toward, but we are left with the basics of water conservation:
Water only on your watering days: odd addresses water on Wednesdays and Sundays; even addresses water on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Water early in the morning before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Do not wash off your driveways or sidewalks with water, use a broom.
Do not allow runoff when watering your yard.
Adjust timers to water for shorter periods, but maybe multiple times during your correct days/times.
If you wash your car at home, you need to use a hose with a shut-off nozzle.
If you have a decorative water feature, it must re-circulate the water.
Not that we are expecting rain, but remember not to water in the rain or for 48 hours after a measurable rainfall.
Homeowners associations cannot block homeowners from reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns.
We are being urged by the state to ensure existing trees remain healthy and do not present a safety hazard.
For more information, call the City of Merced at 385-6800 or to report water being wasted call 388-SAVE.
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To report water waste call 388-SAVE
What to do if you have a water leak?
“Help! Water is geysering up, what do I do?” This is a typical plea for help that comes into the Public Works office on a regular basis. Sometimes that water is coming from the city’s pipelines and sometimes your own. The City of Merced maintains the water mains that travel under the streets in a network called the water distribution system, those lines travel from our well sites to your property line ending at your water meter. If you don’t have a meter, your lateral water line connects right to our main with usually some type of shut off valve on your property.
As a homeowner you are responsible for the water lines on your property, some of those water lines run into your house and some are in the irrigation system in your yard. From the meter to your house, are lines that must all be maintained and repaired by you. There are usually a couple of places on private homes where water can be shut off. There should be a red wheel valve on the customer’s side of the meter so that you can easily turn the water off to the whole property. Also many houses have separate shut off valves under the garden hose bib that can shut off all or some of the water to the property. Kitchen sinks will also have shut off valves under the faucets. Toilets usually have a shut off valve behind or to the side of the bowl.
If you ever see water gurgling up from the asphalt in the street, that’s a sign of a water main break, give us a call at 385-6800 and we will be right out to assess the situation and plan for repair. If you see water gurgling up in your yard or home, first attempt to shut off the water yourself at your meter’s wheel valve or valve into the house, if you can’t find it, give us a call for assistance. If it’s during business hours, we can come out and turn off your water for free so that you can get the repair done. You can also call a plumber right away if it’s on a weekend or night. You may still need to call a plumber if the repair is beyond your abilities. For more information call 385-6800.
What do you do if your water bill is rising?
If you have an unusually high water bill, there are several things to look at.
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you may have found the source of your unusual water usage. Investigate further and make your own adjustments to decrease the water usage. You may need to call a local plumber to assist with a leak. You can call Public Works at 385-6800 to have your water turned off or on so that the leak can be prepared, this is a free service during business hours.
California Native Plants
In my search for all things related to water conservation, I am becoming a student of botany and landscape design. I am finding that a great way to design water efficient landscape is to think of our native California plants and work from there. Native plants are meant to grow in this dry climate and are particularly fond of our hot dry summers. I will try to spotlight a few native plants and recommend a trip to the local nurseries for their expert information on native plants.
According to bewaterwise.com, the California Redbud is an interesting plant all year long, with magenta flowers on leafless stems in summer, followed by crimson seedpods and heart-shaped blue-green leaves.
Deciduous, with yellow or red fall foliage falling away in winter to reveal smooth reddish brown trunks. Long lived, very drought tolerant, and flowers more profusely as it matures. The Cleveland Sage is the most fragrant of the sage shrubs, its scent carries 20 feet on a warm night. Its fragrant pale lavender to violet blue flowers bloom in early summer and it is drought tolerant.
As far as trees go, the Western Sycamore is drought tolerant once it’s established.
It’s smooth, gracefully twisted branches, multiple or leaning trunks have patchy brown, gray and white bark. The Western Sycamore can grow 15-20 feet in 5-10 years. This tree attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
For more information on drought tolerant California native plants, contact your local garden store. And help stimulate our economy by buying those new plants from Merced stores.
HELPFUL WATER CONSERVATION SUGGESTIONS:
* Water your lawn only when needed, two times a week on your watering days late at night or early in the morning to keep evaporation to a minimum.
* Check your sprinkler timers and reduce watering times to less than 10 minutes per station.
* Apply a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce moisture loss and prevent excessive weed growth
* Use a broom to sweep outdoors.
* Ask your local nursery for suggestions on drought tolerant plants. They do not need to be watered as much and can survive a dry period without any watering.
* Check your sprinkler heads, valves and drip emitters monthly for leaks and make sure the sprinkler heads are aimed properly.
* Check for other household leaks. Leaks allow water and your money to go down the drain. To help detect hidden leaks, turn off anything that uses water and see if your water meter is still moving. If it is, there could be a leak somewhere on your property.
*Install low-flow shower heads, kitchen & bath faucet aerators.
* Adjust your watering schedule for each season. In fall, you can reduce your watering by half. By November, you can turn off your irrigation system completely.
* If you notice someone wasting water, call the Public Works Department at 385-6800 to report it or click on this e-mail link to send us a note, firstname.lastname@example.org. In your e-mail include time of day, date, and address of location of water wasting.
* Water Conservation helps save resources and your money!