With California in a severe water drought and the state’s ban on watering grass on commercial, industrial and institutional properties, some Ceres businesses face the prospect of letting their grass die or having to replace it. .
The lawn watering ban came into effect on June 16 and does not apply to residential properties but will apply to non-working lawns maintained by homeowner associations. The ban also does not apply to the watering of lawns used for recreational or other community purposes, such as parks and schools.
The new rule will impact grass strips in front of McDonald’s, Starbucks, business offices and more. The city itself must determine how it will modify the limited use of turf along public rights-of-way and city properties such as Ceres Police Headquarters and Ceres American Legion Hall.
Commercial and industrial properties are permitted to continue watering trees, shrubs and plants.
“Our commercial irrigation accounts use a significant amount of water,” said Karen Morgan, Superintendent of the City of Ceres Department of Public Works. “So that’s what we’re trying to do right now is (guess) what the potential savings are from these accounts.”
The city drafts a letter to inform the 1,000 commercial, industrial and industrial account holders of the new ban.
Companies have two accounts, one for indoor or domestic water lines and the other for outdoor irrigation.
Water providers and the local government will be responsible for enforcing the ban, and those who violate face a daily fine of up to $500.
“That’s obviously not the first road we want to take,” Morgan noted. “We’re hoping to put in place a few programs that encourage people to do that.”
Some of the businesses with turf may now wish or need to remove it and replace it with drought resistant plants and rocks. The city offers sod replacement rebates, paying businesses and homeowners up to $1,000 to remove and replace sod for every 1,000 square feet of landscaping. The corporate rebates have garnered little interest, but that may change with the enactment of the statewide ban.
“We want to help our commercial accounts maintain their very nice landscaping, but in a different way,” Morgan said. “The trees still need to be watered.”
Ceres residents work hard to save water, Morgan said, but Ceres’ overall water conservation efforts aren’t as good as they once were.
“We’ve done very well in the past and met our goals, but like the rest of the state of California, which is only meeting 3.7% of its statewide conservation goals, we’re in sort of in line with that. We don’t have the (water) savings that we had in the past.
The city calculated that in April, residential water usage per person per day was 82.04 gallons. It is estimated that on an annual average, each person uses 91.02 gallons per person per day.
She acknowledged that the city has focused its education and awareness programs primarily on residential water use, but must now focus on industrial and commercial use.
“We were never asked to start working with our business accounts, so this will be the first time,” Morgan said.
All Ceres water users are currently permitted to water outdoors only two days a week as part of Stage 2 of the drought contingency plan.
If you have any questions, visit the City of Ceres Public Works website or call (209) 538-5732.