Frequently Asked Questions
Water Conservation Questions
The United States Geological Survey defines a drought as a "period of drier-than-normal conditions that results in water-related problems. When rainfall is less than normal for several weeks, months or years, the flow of streams and rivers declines, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fall, and the depth to water in wells increases. If dry weather persists and water-supply problems develop, the dry period can become a drought." California's 2014 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2013 - September 30, 2014) was the warmest and third driest in 119 years of record. Consequently, California is in the midst of a significant drought.
On April 1, 2015, the California Department of Water Resources measured the statewide water content of Sierra snowpack at 1.4 inches, or 5% of the 28-inch average. The April 1st readings are the lowest on record since 1950. The April 1st snowpack measurement is crucial, because this is when the snowpack is normally at its peak and begins to melt into streams and reservoirs. Snowpack, through runoff, provides about one-third of the water used by California's cities and farms." The State maintains a website that tracks what the various State agencies are doing to manage the consequences of the drought.
All cities and towns, including Burlingame, have to follow the SWRCB restrictions; however, a municipality may choose to adopt additional or stricter restrictions. On May 18, 2015, the City Council declared a 'water shortage condition' to formally implement Water Use Restrictions in response to the State mandate. As the City has already met its water use reduction requirement, it will focus on maintaining its current conservation levels but encourages its residents and businesses owners to conserve more when possible.
The City is enforcing the Water Use Restrictions and has set up a Water Conservation Hotline (650) 558-7612 and email WaterConservation@burlingame.org so that residents and business owners can contact City staff with questions and water overuse concerns. Furthermore, the City mailed a fact sheet listing the restrictions to all residents and has also created other outreach materials to help spread the word. In addition, the City's Parks and Recreation Department has already made efforts to adjust its irrigation program. Look for signs at local parks, with sayings such as 'Brown is the New Green' or 'Doing our Part to Conserve Water', reminding residents that water conservation is a City-wide concern.
Finally, the City has been actively participating in various water conservation programs, including:
Annual rebate programs in conjunction with Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) to replace old inefficient toilets with high efficiency toilets;
Annual rebate programs in conjunction with BAWSCA and Pacific Gas & Electric to replace old inefficient washing machines with high efficiency washing machines;
Performing water audits for large commercial customers to provide water conservation recommendations;
Providing water conservation education materials for schools;
Providing water efficient landscaping classes to residents through BAWSCA;
Providing water conservation giveaways such as low flow shower heads, spray nozzles and moisture sensors among other items at community events;
Adoption of an ordinance establishing indoor water use regulations requiring high efficiency water conservation fixtures;
Adoption of an ordinance establishing water conservation in landscaping regulations to irrigation areas for newly developed properties;
Installation of high efficiency toilets and water-less urinals in City buildings;
Adoption of tiered water rates to promote water conservation.
Many of these programs target indoor water use, which provides year-round reductions for 'essential' water use and results in cost decreases for customers in both water and sewer bills.
- Watering outdoor landscapes that causes runoff onto streets or sidewalks;
- Using a hose without a shut-off nozzle;
- Watering during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall;
- Using water to wash hard/paved surfaces; and
- Using water in a non-recirculating fountain.
The State's Save our Water website, available in English and Spanish, provides helpful water conservation information, including lists of the little changes you can make in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room that collectively add up to a lot of water savings. The site also includes video testimonials by real people taking real action to save water. A tour through the H2O House can help you assess the water saving opportunities in each area of your home. Also, the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency offers Landscape Education classes to learn how to serve water in your yard.
Furthermore, the Water Use it Wisely website has 100 water conservation tips to start following today! The Grace Communications Foundation offers numerous tips to save water, even when going shopping or choosing what type of food to eat. Finally, the Water Education Foundation provides various resources, including a comprehensive water news page, a water encyclopedia and even water tours to give you a 'first-hand look' at our State's water resources.