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Water Conservation FAQs

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New Water-Use Efficiency Legislation

On May 31, 2018, two long-term water-use efficiency conservation bills (SB 606 and AB 1668) were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. These call for the creation of indoor and outdoor water-use targets for water agencies. The following information provides an overview of how these bills will affect water agencies and residents across the state.

Q. What are urban water use budgets?

A. Starting in 2023, urban water suppliers (CalAm, CalWater and the City of Thousand Oaks Water agency) will be required to each submit a calculated urban water-use budget to the state, based on residential water use efficiency standards for indoor and outdoor water use. Urban water suppliers will be required to meet their water use budgets by 2024.

Q. Will the state issue these urban water-use budgets to individual water users?

A. No. The water-use budgets are for local water suppliers’ system-wide, aggregate water use. There is no requirement in these bills that individual households must adhere to a specific water-use standard. However, many water suppliers have already implemented individual water-use budgets, and more are expected to implement these to ensure that the water supplier’s budget is fairly applied across all customers.

Q. Will individual water users be fined for exceeding water-use budget?

A. No. The bills establish possible fines, starting in 2027, on local water agencies that have not meet their water-use budget. These fines would be levied on the agencies, not individuals. Agencies may choose to impose fines or a surcharge on residents that exceed an agency-established threshold.

Q. How will local water agencies meet these new urban water use budgets?

A. Each year, local water agencies like the City of Thousand Oaks will be responsible for ensuring our aggregate water use meets our budget, and helping customers use water efficiently.

Q. How will the state’s water efficiency standards be calculated?

A. Water efficiency standards are being developed through research and public input. The indoor budget will is based on a provisional* standard of 55 gallons of water a day per person in each household. The outdoor budget is still being determined but will account for local climate and the number of irrigable (landscaped) acres in the district’s service area. Variances for special circumstances will also be allowed.

In 2025, the indoor standard is provisionally* scheduled to change to 52.5 gallons of water a day per person, and in 2030, to 50 gallons.

*The state set the provisional standards based on national research conducted by the Water Education Foundation. Prior to implementing the final standard, the state will be conducting a study to determine an appropriate California standard.

Q. Is it easy to limit indoor water use to 55 gallons per person per day?

A. Based on industry estimates, many households already meet this standard. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has an online water calculator that will help customers estimate how much water is used in their household. Households with water-efficient appliances are likely using 55 gallons or less per person per day.

Remember, the state water efficiency standards will use this calculation to develop an aggregate goal for water agencies. For example, a local water agency with 1,000 connections that is serving a population of 2,500 people would have a water-use budget based on 2,500 X 55 gallons per day (plus outdoor budget).

Q. Will commercial water users be required to use water more efficiently?

A. Yes.  By 2022, the state will adopt water use efficiency performance measures for various commercial, industrial and institutional (schools, parks, etc.) water users.

Q. Will agricultural water users be required to use water more efficiently?

A. Yes.  Every five years, agricultural water suppliers will be required to update their management plans to include an annual water budget, drought contingency actions, and actions to reduce water loss and improve system efficiency.

Q. Who can I talk with at my local water agency to get more information?

A. Contact John Brooks at 805-449-2472 or click here to send an e-mail.

Existing conservation standards

Portions of Western Ventura County and Santa Barbara County are still in a water shortage, but state-mandated goals are over. The City recognizes that Thousand Oaks residents have already taken steps to reduce water usage and is encouraging everyone to continue to do their part in using water efficiently. We also need to prepare to meet the new state water efficiency standards discussed above.

 What are the permanent water restrictions? Where can I get more information?

  • Outdoor irrigation is limited to 15 minutes a station/per day (low flow systems are exempt)
  • Outdoor irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm.
  • No watering during rainfall and 48 hours afterward.
  • No excessive runoff.
  • No washing or hosing down of hard or paved surfaces.
  • Leaks must be fixed within seven days.

Click here to see the City's Water Conservation Ordinance

Other Restrictions

Are there restrictions on how often I can wash my car?

No. However, you are required to use an automatic shutoff device on the hose. Washing your car at home typically uses 100 plus gallons. Leaving your car dirty longer or using a commercial car wash where they recycle their water can help to conserve water. Many local car washes recycle their water on-site and reuse it before draining it back into the sewer systems. This helps conserve water and protect local waterways by limiting the amount of soap and oil that flow untreated to storm drains to creeks and rivers.

Are there any restrictions on swimming pools?

No. However, we are encouraging residents to limit evaporation by using a pool cover. A cover is required when building a new pool.

Can I keep using my decorative pond?

There are no restrictions currently. However, in a Level 2 restriction filling or refilling ornamental lakes or ponds with potable water is prohibited unless they contain valuable aquatic life, such as Koi fish or turtles which were present before the drought declaration.

Outside Irrigation

What are the exceptions to the time limitations on watering?

Low-flow irrigation (less than 2 gallons per hour) is exempt from the 15-minute time-limit and the days per week rules (when in effect).

Watering for 15 minutes is a lot of water. Why can’t I water more frequently for less time?

Frequent light watering by spreading it out over multiple days actually harms lawns and trees by causing them to grow shallower/weaker root systems. Watering twice a week deeply allows the water to soak deeper into the soil, promoting deeper/healthier root systems and thus resulting in more drought-resistant lawns.  To achieve deeper watering without the runoff, many landscapers recommend several cycles. For instance, you may only be able to water an area for five minutes before you have runoff. Water for five minutes and cycle through the rest of your stations and then do another cycle on those stations where you need to water more deeply.

Is it 15 minutes in total for watering?

Each station on the irrigation station is limited to a maximum of 15 minutes of watering on your watering days. You can set your stations, so they water for a short period, such as three minutes and then do multiple passes as long as they do not exceed the maximum allowed of 15 minutes per station.

I want to plant a new lawn or lay down some new sod.

It would be best to wait until the weather cools down and the lawn will not need as much water to survive. Also, consider planting warm weather grasses better suited for drought survival. Please refer to our blog post on low water lawns for more information.

Who is responsible for maintaining the parkway in front of my property?

A property owner is responsible for the care of the parkway in front of their property, including watering any City trees. However, the property owner can eliminate the turf, plant drought-tolerant plants, convert to a mulch or rock feature or otherwise re-landscape at their discretion. It is preferable that the area remains permeable to allow for water infiltration into our groundwater. This will be an important source of water in the future. Occasionally, either City or utilities staff also need to dig down to access the utilities. When that occurs, artificial turf, cement or other impermeable materials make it difficult to access. Contact Public Works at (805) 449-2499 if you have questions about your city tree,

Enforcement & Fines

I got a notice on my door (door hanger) saying I violated one of the restrictions. I don’t think we were at fault.

The door hangers are meant as a courtesy notice that you may have violated one or more of the conservation measures and is meant to encourage you to investigate further and take appropriate action to correct the situation if there is a problem.

Do you have “water police”?  Who reported me?

City staff may have witnessed a violation as they were conducting their normal duties or someone may have reported a violation. The door hanger is a courtesy notice only at this point. At this current stage, the City does not have “water police” or staff dedicated to looking for violations.

What happens if I have another violation?

Through water conservation education and public outreach, enforcement will be focused on voluntary compliance, but fines of up to $500 per occurrence may be levied on repeat offenders. Before issuing a fine, staff would verify and document the violation and attempt to contact the resident or business to discuss ways to conserve water.

How do I report someone for violating one of the water conservation rules?

To report a leak or water waste call (805) 375‐5747 or use the ConnecTO App to report any type of concerns throughout the City. If we do not answer, please leave a descriptive message of the violation, the location, and your contact information in case we need more details.

Home Conservation

Where can I find out about rebates?

Be Waterwise.com is the primary link for all water rebates. If you use this website and enter in your property information, it will check for all the water rebates you are eligible to receive. The City participates in the Metropolitan Water District program and does not have a separate rebate program.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information on water saving tips, rebates, events and workshops, visit our Save Water page. There are multiple links to other helpful websites and a calendar of events that features workshops and talks by experts on biochar, natural plant landscapes, greywater, and other water conservation-related topics.

Does the City provide any help?

You can get a FREE In‐Home Water Conservation Survey by calling (805) 375‐5747. California American Water and California Water Service also provide a similar service for their customers. The survey will help you identify areas where you can conserve water and where you may be losing water. However, this is not a leak detection service which requires specialized equipment and expertise.

What is the contact information for my water agency?

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