Burbank adopts mandatory water regulations

Burbank residents will have to cut down on watering their lawns following mandatory regulations adopted unanimously by the City Council Tuesday at the behest of the state.

Burbank Water and Power customers will be required to limit landscape irrigation to 15 minutes per station a day, once a week — on Saturdays — from November through March, and three times a week — on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays — between April and October. Watering has to take place before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

“Three days a week watering is sufficient enough to have a healthy landscape,” said utility spokesman Joe Flores. “Anything more than three days a week is a waste of water.”

Hand watering with a hose, however, is permitted at any time, he said.

The move comes just a week after the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations requiring urban water suppliers, like the city of Burbank, to implement mandatory water restrictions on outdoor water use by Aug. 1, or face a $10,000 fine per day, according to a city report.

The restrictions are part of the second stage of Burbank’s six-stage sustainable water use ordinance, in which each stage gets progressively stricter. Stage six, for example, prohibits customers from using potable water outdoors completely.

The city, though, has never implemented restrictions past stage two, which was in effect from September of 2009 until July of 2011. “That’s why we have a lot of confidence in this schedule — it’s been tested and we’ve seen that it works,” Flores said.

While the city has the ability to fine egregious violations of the ordinance, it never has fined customers as the intent is to focus on education and gaining compliance, Flores said.

“The intent here is not to fine people,” Flores said. “Fines are a tool that we can use if we have to. We have never had to use it.”

Burbank uses roughly 164 gallons of water per day per person, but it’s the city’s goal to get that number down to 155 by 2020, Flores said.

The idea is to make the water that the utility has kept in storage last longer to make it to the next rainy season, Flores said.

“We are now living on that stored water,” Flores said, adding that with the reductions, the supply will last up to roughly two years. “By then, we’re hoping to have some relief by Mother Nature.”

Meanwhile, the utility is attempting to snag $720,000 in grant funding from the California Department of Water Resources to beef up water conservation efforts.

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