Drought Frequently Asked Questions
General drought questions
A drought is defined as a prolonged period with less-than-average amounts of rain or snow in a region. Drought severity is calculated from the amount of time that the region receives below-average precipitation. The variable climate in Southern California has become the norm. During previous times of drought, California residents have successfully used water efficiently, and have adopted a water-smart lifestyle even during normal to wet years.
Western remains in Stage 2 - Water Supply Alert. At this stage, and since conditions do not appear to be improving with respect to rainfall and snowpack in 2022, Western retail customers are being asked to continue stepping up their efforts to use less by voluntarily reducing their water use by up to 20%. This stage aligns with the state's request for a voluntary 20% reduction.
To learn more about Western's Water Shortage Contingency Plan and water shortage response actions, visit wmwd.com/DroughtActions.
On May 24, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted emergency conservation regulations stating that urban water suppliers must implement actions that reflect a water shortage level of up to 20% (Level 2) by June 10, 2022, and prohibit potable irrigation of non-functional turf for commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) customers.
Western is already in Stage 2 - Water Supply Alert of its WSCP, which calls for customers to reduce water use by up to 20%. At this time, there are no mandatory water use restrictions for residential water users.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is requiring that more than 6 million people in parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties -- who rely on state water from northern California -- restrict outdoor watering to just one day per week due to rapidly worsening drought conditions. While this current mandate DOES NOT currently apply to Western customers, the announcement emphasizes the urgent and serious nature of this drought. Western relies on water imported from Northern California; however recent customer investments have created local supply and storage at Diamond Valley Lake that is getting us through for now.
Western needs customers to know that future mandatory water usage cutbacks may be required if these extreme drought conditions persist, and supplies continue to dwindle.
For more information on Western's Commercial Turf Replacement Program, visit wmwd.com/Rebates.
We need all customers to do their part to step it up and slow your water flow. Using less water now may help prevent mandatory water use restrictions later. Western is asking customers to continue voluntarily reducing water use, particularly outside, where more than 60% of residential water is used.
If the State or The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California requests future mandatory reductions, Western will look at implementing an administrative and/or drought fine policy as a tool to encourage efficient water use. Administrative fines can be issued if multiple written alerts of water waste go unanswered, and when visible water waste is identified. Visible water waste can include things like sprinkler runoff, watering down hard surfaces, etc.
We encourage you to get familiar with your water bill, learn about your water budget, and review your water usage each month. Western also has various customer support tools and programs to help you use water efficiently. Learn more at wmwd.com/SaveWater.
Now is the time to use less water. Western is asking customers to continue voluntarily reducing water use, particularly outside, where more than 60 percent of residential water is used. Through continuous, mindful choices about your water use, you can help preserve our region’s vital resource. Don’t be afraid to experiment! One way to experiment is to stress test your lawn and plants to see how much water they need. Try skipping a day, and then two days, and so on to see how little water plants actually need.
You can be part of the water-saving solution by implementing simple steps like these:
- Dial back your irrigation timers
- Fix all leaks and broken sprinklers
- Do not let water run down the street
- Wash full loads of laundry and dishes
- Respond to leaks faster
- Water landscape in the early hours and do not water after rainfall
Do your part to step it up and slow your water flow.
Western is urging customers to reduce their water use by 20%, especially outdoors, where the biggest water savings can be achieved—we all must do our part. We urge everyone to take a closer look at how they are using water inside and outside their home and take the necessary steps to use less. Focusing your efforts on outdoor water use will result in the biggest water savings.
As a leader in securing water for the region, Western is participating in a statewide coalition, Solve the Water Crisis, dedicated to demonstrating the urgency and immediate bold actions needed by California policymakers to invest in statewide water storage and conveyance capable of meeting the needs of not only Western customers but all California communities. To learn more or get involved, visit SolveTheWaterCrisis.com.
New construction is increasingly subject to more efficient water use practices implemented by local and state agencies. In areas in which there is low to moderate building, water agencies can rely on the local and state codes to help existing customers understand the requirements placed on new homes and businesses. In larger growth areas, water agencies will need to be specific in outlining long-term water management plans. Actions that agencies have committed to should be described clearly so existing customers can understand the plans are designed to allow new construction with water use efficiency in mind, while also asking existing customers to help during emergency drought situations.
During and in response to a declared Drought Emergency an HOA cannot issue a fine or assessment on a homeowner for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns during a state or locally declared drought emergency (Civil Code section 4735(c)).
Additionally, an HOA cannot enforce architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, compliance with most local water-efficient landscape ordinances. An HOA cannot require that a homeowner pressure wash the exterior of their home, vehicles, and concrete surfaces during a declared state of drought emergency (Civil Code section 4736(b)).
For businesses, the drought emergency means that sustained water efficiency and using less water outdoors is a priority. Small efforts like fixing leaks and avoiding water runoff can have a big impact when it comes to using water efficiently.
For Western's commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) customers, the State recently prohibited potable irrigation of non-functional turf. By June 16, 2022, all CII customers must stop watering turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or civic or community events. Effectively, grass is not used for any purpose other than decoration, and the only time a person walks on it might be to mow it. Western will be working directly with any impacted customers, establishing clear, Board-adopted guidelines for what areas are included in the ban, and boosting customer support programs to make it easy for customers to comply with new state-mandated watering restrictions.
On May 24, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency conservation regulations stating that urban water suppliers must prohibit potable irrigation of non-functional turf for commercial, industrial and institutional customers by June 16, 2022.
Western will be working directly with any impacted customers, providing education about non-functional turf, and boosting customer support programs to make it easy for customers to comply with the new State-mandated watering restrictions. Information will be updated as it is available.
The State Board has defined “non-functional turf” as turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or civic or community events. Effectively, grass that is not used for any purpose other than decoration, and the only time a person walks on it might be to mow it.
No, only the irrigation of non-functional turf in commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sectors will be banned. The Board encourages people to reduce turf irrigation on their properties and to convert turf to water-wise landscapes.
Yes, however the State encourages people to prioritize other plants given the severity of the drought and the amount of water required for turf.
Yes, trees are important and should be irrigated appropriately. For more information on taking care of trees while saving water, see the Save Our Trees section within SaveOurWater.com.
Yes. Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and similar entities will be subject to the same prohibition on irrigating non-functional turf as other entities in the CII sectors. Because the ban on irrigating non-functional turf does not apply to the residential sector, individual homes within HOAs will not be affected. The State encourages HOAs to consult with residents on what turf is functional within the HOAs’ properties