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Frequently Asked Questions

General Water Conservation Questions

Does the City offer any rebates on water-efficient products?
Yes, there are several rebates available for Burlingame residents, including high-efficiency toilets and lawn conversion programs. Visit our Conservation Programs page to learn more! In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense Products Program offers information about various water-saving devices including recommended water-efficient products. 
What can I do to save water inside and outside my home?

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.

How can I teach my kids about water conservation?
Here are some great web resources to teach kids about the importance of water conservation:
I want to save water, but my family has a pool and still wants to enjoy it. Is there anything I can do to conserve water?
The City recommends that you keep a cover on your pool to prevent evaporation when it is not in use and regularly maintain pool equipment. For guidance, visit the California's Pool and Spa Association water conservation web site or review these tips.
I want to save water with my landscaping but don't know how to start. Where can I find help?
Here are some resources to help you get started with saving water in your garden:
How can I report a water leak or water overuse?
If you have or witness a potential leak or water overuse situation, please contact us on our Water Conservation Hotline at 650-558-7612 or email us at WaterConservation@burlingame.org.
Why does the City flush water pipes?
Flushing ensures that the City's water quality is maintained at its optimal level and our drinking water distribution system meets requirements mandated by drinking water State regulations. Flushing is also used to ensure the distribution system is operating properly and can provide adequate flow for fire protection. The Water Division is committed to doing everything possible to investigate secondary uses for the discharged water. For more information about water pipeline flushing, click here.

Drought Questions

What is a drought, and why was California in a drought?

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. 

What are the latest  water use restrictions?

On April 7, 2017, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. ended the drought state of emergency, in several counties in California, including San Mateo County, while maintaining water reporting requirements and prohibitions on wasteful practices. 

The following wasteful water practices are still prohibited:

  • Watering outdoor landscapes that causes runoff onto streets or sidewalks. Any type of irrigation using potable (drinking) water to run onto adjacent property, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, street/gutters or other paved or non-irrigated areas is prohibited.
  • Using a hose without a shut-off nozzle. Hoses can be used to water plants, edible gardens and fruit trees any day of the week, however, we highly encourage you to water in the evenings to minimize the amount of water loss due to evaporation.
  • Watering during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall. Turn off your irrigation systems during the winter or wet season (October through April).
  • Using water to wash hard/paved surfaces. Drinking water cannot be used to clean hard surface areas, including but not limited to sidewalks, driveways, roofs, and awnings except to address immediate health or safety concerns.
  • Using water in a non-recirculating fountain. It is prohibited to use water fountains or other decorative water features unless the water is part of a recirculating system.
How has the city been conserving water?

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 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. 

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;
  • 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; and
  • Adoption of tiered water rates to promote water conservation.
Is there an exemption to the prohibitions to protect public health and safety?
Yes. The SWRCB states that the prohibitions apply "except where necessary to address an immediate health and safety need or to comply with a term or condition in a permit issued by a State or federal agency." The regulations do not include a specific definition of what constitutes an immediate health and safety need, but generally speaking, a health and safety exception should be applied in good faith where a reasonable person would conclude that the application of water is necessary to address public health and safety. Pressure washing a sidewalk or driveway for aesthetic purposes, for example, is not a health and safety need."