Water rations topic of hearing

The Laguna Beach County Water District wants to hear the community’s comments on a proposed water-saving ordinance.

A public hearing will be at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the district office, 360 Third St. The meeting will be conducted by the Water Commission, as approved by the City Council, acting as the district board of directors.

“All of Laguna’s water is imported and the supplies are being drastically curtailed,” said Renae Hinchey, district general manager. “Traditionally we have bought between 4,400 and 4,500 acre-feet of water annually from Metropolitan Water. This year we are being limited to 4,000 acre-feet.

“If we buy in excess of that, the cost per acre-foot of water goes up from $709 to $1,889. We have to find ways to reduce use, voluntarily and by legal means, if necessary.”


The proposed ordinance would establish permanent ongoing restrictions on water use, designed to optimize water-use efficiency, even when there is no shortage in water supplies.

Among the proposed permanent mandatory restrictions:

 No sprinkler watering between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

 Sprinklers limited to 10 minutes per valve


 No runoff, already a no-no according to quality experts, and a restriction in the new Storm Water Permit proposed by the state Regional Water Quality Board-San Diego

 Leaks to be repaired within three days of notification from the district

 Limited hosing of hardscape

 All water features will be required to have re-circulating pumps

“We are hoping for voluntary compliance to achieve a 15% reduction in water use and ignoring the mandatory restrictions will be considered a wasteful and unreasonable use of water,” said Chris Regan, district assistant general manager.

The proposed ordinance also allows the district to take more stringent measures if voluntary reductions are insufficient to offset shortages.

 “Water Alert:” a 15% to 30% reduction in water use

 “Water Warning:” a 30% to 50% reduction in water use


 “Water Emergency:” more than 50% reduction in water use

“Reduced water use will help alleviate some of the pain of the expected rate increase for our customers, made imperative by 19.7% increase imposed on the district by Metropolitan Water District, which will start July 1,” Hinchey said.

If approved, the Water Use Efficiency Ordinance will apply to all customers directly connected to the Laguna Beach County Water District system.

It will not affect residents served by South Coast Water District, which supplies water and sewer service to properties south of Nyes Place.

“However, South Coast is working on an ordinance that is very similar to ours,” Regan said.

Penalties will be imposed for failure to comply with any of the provisions of the ordinance. First offenders will be warned.

Subsequent violations will be fined, up to $500. Violators could also be charged with a misdemeanor.

The district will enforce the ordinance.


A copy of the ordinance can be viewed at or picked up at the district’s headquarters office at 306 Third St.

BARBARA DIAMOND can be reached at (949) 380-4321 or