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Mandatory water preservation in effect for Escondido

ESCONDIDO— California’s drought isn’t easing up and City Council unanimously approved measures to decrease residents’ water usage.

On Aug. 13 the Council approved the move to Drought Response Level Two.

Residents will now only be allowed to water yards for 10 minutes a day, three days a week.

Residents that have an even numbered address can water Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.

Residents with odd numbers can water Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Christopher McKinney, director of Utilities, said the restriction applies to each valve or sprinkler so residents can water their front yard for 10 minutes and their backyard for 10 minutes on assigned days, as long as different valves are used.

City officials will contact residents that don’t comply with the regulations. After two offenses, the city may fine the offender anywhere from $100 to $500, according to McKinney.

McKinney said fines are only used as a last resort and people that disobey the regulations are generally unaware of the restrictions.

“Staffs goal is educating customers,” said McKinney, “We’d obviously like to educate them before somebody discovers a violation.”

He said the Utilities Department will send out notices in bills, announce it on the city’s website and through public signs.

“It’s very easy to save water, it’s just a mater of habit and changing a few things,” said Mayor Sam Abed. “Water is going to continue to be the biggest issue in Southern California.”

California is in its third year of drought and almost the entire state is experiencing extreme drought. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on April 25 because of the lack of rainfall.

Level Two restrictions are more severe than the Level One drought response plan since the restrictions are mandatory. Level One was voluntary and Councilmembers felt residents were adhering to those.

Mayor Abed said he’s noticed more drought tolerant landscaping and artificial grass.

McKinney pointed out that there are resources for residents who don’t have drought tolerant landscaping.

“We all have to start making difficult decisions about what sorts of plants we’re going to have on our landscapes” said McKinney, “If your landscaping is not drought tolerant, there are resources out there to help you plan cost effectively.”

He said the County Water Authority and Escondido Utilities have information to help residents with landscaping.