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California is facing serious drought conditions, and Governor Brown has declared a statewide drought emergency, calling on “… every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible.” The East Bay Municipal Water District (EBMUD) is asking for 10% voluntary reductions in water use, and on July 29, 2014, emergency regulations to increase conservation practices for all Californians went into effect, targeting urban outdoor water use.
Emeryville has been extremely proactive in ensuring that new development uses Bay-Friendly Landscaping and other water-saving design elements. The City Council approved a Water Efficient Landscaping Ordinance in 2013, requiring Bay-Friendly Landscaping in new developments and renovations over 1,000 square feet. The City has installed new Bay-Friendly landscapes in several locations in recent years, and more are planned.
As part of the Public Works Department’s response to the drought, we are cutting back on landscape irrigation City-wide, as shown in the attached table. As the table shows, our approach will be aggressive but thoughtful. Some lawns, notably those at several City facilities including City Hall, will receive no irrigation this fall. We’ll provide signage at affected sites explaining the change and helping to make the public aware of the drought and the measures the City is taking to respond to it.
Our public works crews use dry methods for site cleanup; in the very limited circumstances when power washing is required, we use low-flow equipment. We are undertaking two water audits with EBMUD: the first audit to find ways we can improve on our irrigation schedules and ensure we adhere to at least the twice-a-week maximum recommended by EMBUD, and the second to find ways to reduce our water use in the City’s buildings.