PLEASANTON -- Another Tri-Valley body has declared a drought emergency, as Pleasanton is ordering residents and business owners to slash their water usage by 25 percent.
One day after the Dublin San Ramon Services District instituted water restrictions, the Pleasanton City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to issue the mandatory cuts, which require all of Pleasanton's municipal facilities as well as its parks, golf course and residential customers not exceed 75 percent of the water they used last year. The limits are effective immediately.
The city issued a voluntary 20 percent reduction in February, which hasn't resulted in enough conservation in the face of dwindling water reserves, said Daniel Smith, the city's director of operation services.
And after learning that the State Water Project -- which provides 80 percent of the Tri-Valley's water -- would have to cut its allocations, the Alameda County Zone 7 Water Agency announced last month it would allocate only 75 percent of the water it usually supplies to Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and part of San Ramon.
"We need to save every drop we can, just to meet the basic needs," Smith said. "If we don't save water now, it may not be available to us in the summer."
Pleasanton isn't increasing its water rates based on the drought; instead, it's assessing penalties, Smith said. In addition, all lawn and landscape irrigation is limited to no more than two days a week, and the hosing of driveways, sidewalks and other hard surfaces is prohibited.
The city says customers can achieve a 25 percent overall reduction by cutting indoor water use by 10 percent and outdoor water use by 40 percent.
If customers can't meet the 25 percent reduction goal, penalties will be assessed. Initially, customers who go over their allotted 75 percent of last year's bill will be charged $4 more per unit (or for every 748 gallons), in addition to normal rate fees, plus a $50 fine. Second, third and fourth time offenders will face increasing tiers of penalties that can more than quadruple. The city could not provide figures on how much the average residential customer's water bill would be affected by the changes because the size of homes and water use among homes in the community vary widely, Smith said.
To illustrate the 25 percent reduction: If a household used 32 units or 400 gallons of water a day last year, it must reduce its use by 100 gallons a day; if it doesn't cut water use by that amount for the 60-day billing period, the penalty would be $178, said Rita Di Candia, the city's conservation manager. With repeat offenses, the figure would go up significantly.
But "the city's goal is not to penalize one single person in the city of Pleasanton," Smith said. In fact, it has set up a drought center and hotline to help customers with the changes.
"And if you don't know how to conserve water, we'll send someone to your house to help you do that," he said. "And we'll show you how to read your water meter, so you can check your water weekly."
Customers also will be able to appeal the penalty process if they are doing all they can to meet conservation efforts, Smith said.
For more information, go to the city's website on water conservation at www.pleasantonwaterconservation.com or call its drought hotline at 925-931-5504.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.