Santa Rosa imposed mandatory restrictions on water use Tuesday as part of its ongoing water conservation efforts, but it won’t be handing out $500 tickets to water wasters just yet.
The city is instead relying on education and friendly reminders to encourage residents to help it reach the goal of a 20 percent communitywide reduction in water use.
Residents who waste water by over irrigating their lawns or hosing down their driveways will now be subject to a progressive enforcement program that will begin with a note from a city utility worker identifying the problem.
That will be followed up by letters and repeat visits and, if necessary, restricting or cutting off customers’ water, city officials said.
“Ultimately, we could turn their water off,” Jennifer Burke, deputy director of water and engineering resources, told the council Tuesday.
No one expects that to happen anytime soon. Burke stressed that the city appreciates residents’ conservation efforts to date and hopes stricter enforcement measures won’t be needed.
“Usually, customers are very responsible,” she said.
The council asked residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent in February. From March through June, the city’s water use dropped by 16 percent compared to the prior year.
That’s a laudable accomplishment, especially when compared to the rest of the state, which as seen a 1 percent increase over a similar period, said David Guhin, director of the city’s utilities department.
But new state rules announced last month forced the city to impose mandatory restrictions on water use. Those rules allow cities to levy fines of up to $500 per day for violations of prohibited uses.