Even though our region received some rainfall this past winter, the ongoing drought is still impacting our City’s water supply. The City of Healdsburg’s Water Department offers this FAQ to help answer the most prevalent questions.
It is critical for all of us to work together, as a community, to save water and meet our current goal of reducing our water consumption by 20%. To achieve this goal, it is essential that we work together and maintain a water-efficient, focus on water savings measures. The City will be posting regular updates so that we can be aware of the coordinated effort by all to meet our goal. We can each take simple steps to meet the goal by limiting irrigation to designated days, using water-efficient, appliances and fixtures (efficient showerheads, toilets, and clothes washers), and washing only full loads of dishes and laundry. We can also turn off the tap when it is not needed, such as when brushing teeth. Residents of Healdsburg who are interested in more long-term and sustainable measures, such as removing lawns and replacing them with water-efficient, plants and replacing appliances with high-efficiency water conservative ones, can view eligible water rebates here.
Below are the most common questions we have received through the winter months. We hope these answer your questions but if not please contact the
City’s Utility Conservation Department by calling 431-3122 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Will there be a need for conservation this summer 2022 and if so, how great?
Yes, restrictions are likely this summer, but the water supply conditions are somewhat improved from last year. We expect that reductions of 20% (Stage 2) * will continue through the summer and fall of 2022. That may change based on rainfall totals for the remainder of the year.
*This year the City has adopted the 6 stages of water conservation based on the recommendations within the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan.
What are the water restrictions currently in place?
The City is currently in Stage 2 with the goal of reducing usage by 20%. Some restrictions include the following:
Irrigation on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during early morning and evening hours only (midnight to 7:00 am and 8:00 pm to 11:59 pm)
- No washing of sidewalks, driveways, or other similar hardscapes
- Filling of new or existing swimming pools is only allowed with water from outside the City’s potable water supply.
- Construction must use recycled water for dust control and other construction purposes
- Fix leaks within 72 hours
- All customers have an overall goal of reducing water usage by 20%. A 20% water reduction means that the City considers what a normal year of water usage is based on the pre-pandemic years of 2017-2019 and then calculates a 20% reduction based on a normal year. For questions about how this is calculated you may call 707-431-3122 or email email@example.com.
- You can view the full list of water restrictions here.
As a City water customer, when planning or replacing your landscape, it is strongly recommended that customers consider a long-term drought resilient landscape. Drought tolerant landscapes will be better able to weather the cyclical pattern of wet and dry years that is so prevalent within our region. We do understand the desire to maintain vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Under Stage 2 water restrictions irrigation of vegetable gardens and fruit trees will need to follow the restrictions for other landscape irrigation. We do strongly suggest that hand watering, and drip-irrigation be used for vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
What are the state-wide regulations for watering ornamental lawns at commercial locations?
The severity of California’s drought has prompted the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) to adopt emergency water conservation regulations that apply to all communities across California, including here in Healdsburg. The new Board regulation restricts commercial, industrial, and institutional sites from irrigating ornamental lawns (“non-functional turf”) with potable water. The restriction also extends to ornamental lawns in common-area landscapes owned by homeowners associations. Non-functional turf is defined as, “Turf that is solely ornamental and not regularly used for human recreational purposes or for civic or community events.” For more information on the State Water Board’s water conservation emergency regulations and frequently asked questions, please visit: bit.ly/StateWaterRulesFAQ.
Are business and tourists required to reduce water usage?
Yes, everyone needs to reduce water usage. Last summer, residents and businesses were able to achieve a 40% reduction by working together towards that goal.
Is the City government subject to the same restrictions?
Yes, the City has exceeded the conservation requirements for all public facilities. With that said, we took a different approach last summer and opted to continue irrigating a limited number of high-use recreation facilities, in order to preserve their availability for youth sports and other outdoor activities. The City exceeded the overall targets by making more drastic reductions in other areas.
What share of our water usage comes from hotels and restaurants?
Based on the most recent data, hotels and restaurants make up about 8% of Healdsburg’s total annual water usage.
How does Healdsburg compare to other cities when it comes to water efficiency?
Healdsburg uses about 50% more water per capita than other cities in the County. This suggests that we have room for more conservation and some ground to make up when it comes to water efficiency within our region, yet we are moving in the right direction.
Will the City of Healdsburg offer recycled water delivery in 2022?
We anticipate that we will be in Stage 2 or 3 this summer, meaning that residents will most likely be able to use their irrigation, albeit with some limitations. Because of this, it is unclear how many would sign up for deliveries, regardless of the price. With lower participation rates we can’t develop the economies of scale that we had last year
The City is currently focusing our limited staff resources to projects that will bring a long-term benefit to our water situation. The recent $7.1 million grant for the recycled water pipeline is an example of these efforts beginning to bear fruit. Part of the reason we had low-cost deliveries last year is that we had multiple full-time positions almost 100% dedicated to that program. Unfortunately, that is not sustainable for our operations
City staff continue to review options and are open to all ideas. We really do appreciate the support of the community and will keep doing our best to provide support.
Therefore, and due to allowed but limited irrigation with municipal water this summer, the City does not intend to re-establish the recycled water hauling program. Recycled water will remain available, free of charge, at two filling stations just outside of town (Kinley Drive and Foreman Lane). Although the program was successful in helping the community achieve high levels of conservation in 2021, it also came at a high price in terms of financial cost and high staff capacity. Further, the program resulted in extremely high truck traffic that we do not believe is sustainable for the condition of our roads or the environment. Customers do have the option to contract directly with water haulers to receive recycled water. This is the list of available haulers:
Andy Ramirez 707-495-3566
American Tank 707-535-1401
Brian Natsios 415-328-8977
CD Water Solutions 707-481-8444
Taylor Water Services 707-548-1948
Alternatively, customers wishing to haul their own recycled water should call Rob Scates at 431-3369 to make an appointment.
Can the City negotiate lower water delivery costs with the haulers?
Last summer the City asked for and received several bids from recycled water haulers. As could be expected the bids received ranged in price from a low of $125 per hour to a high of $145 per hour. With fuel prices spiking this year and labor costs also increasing, it’s doubtful that last summer’s haulers could hold these prices and we expect the costs to be much higher. With current staffing vacancies and some extreme budget constraints for the Water Department, the City is not in a good financial position to provide recycled water hauling as a free or subsidized service.
The prices we are seeing this summer to haul recycled water range from $60 to $100 per delivery and appears that the haulers are providing a reasonable cost for this service. What the City does recommend is calling a few haulers to confirm pricing but also working with close by residents that are also interested in hauling water. The larger portion of hauling costs are with filling the tanker and driving to the delivery site. Since most tankers hold at least 2,000 gallons, close by neighbors could share water from one truck and split the costs of the delivery.
What are the water rebates the City currently offers?
Lawn removal is one of the most effective ways to help reduce the use of water and save money. The City also offers varying rebates for our residents including: lawn removal at $1/square foot, water efficient clothes washers for $50 and low-flow toilets for $110. Saving water is easy and helps reduce costs on your utility bill!
Additional information is also available at https://www.healdsburg.gov/723/Water-Rebates
What steps is the City of Healdsburg taking to diversify our water supply and make us more resilient for future droughts?
Healdsburg presently gets about 80% of our water supply from the upper Russian River, making us particularly vulnerable to supply shortages in Lake Mendocino. With that in mind we have been working on the following projects:
Aquifer Storage and Recovery Wells - Estimated Cost $8.5 million
- This process increases water supply by 60 million gallons per year, or 9% of our current demand.
- The feasibility study is complete and next steps are being outlined.
- Since this is an expensive undertaking, the City has applied for funding from FEMA and the State and is awaiting a response. The expected response time is about 2 years.
Municipal Recycled Water Pipeline - Estimated Cost of $10 million
The City recently received a grant award of 7.1 million from the State of California to fund the pipeline and is currently waiting to be approved for a second grant from FEMA in order to begin construction.
- The pipeline increases water supply by 40 million gallons per year, or 6% of our current demand.
- The City has applied for Federal and State grants. We are still waiting for a response to our application for the FEMA grant.
- The pipeline will add 4.5 miles to our distribution network and expand recycled water deliveries to increase water storage at Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma.
- The pipeline will provide recycled water to city parks, golf course, cemetery and some public schools facilities.
How does the management of Lake Mendocino affect Healdsburg’s water supply?
- Close management of Lake Mendocino has resulted in storage levels greater than any time during 2021.
- The January storage target of 40,000AF was met on January 1, 2021 due to early rains.
- March’s storage target of 59,000AF and has not been met.
- Until a new storage target is met, flows from Lake Mendocino will be reduced to build and save stored water for the coming summer in 2022.