Santa Clara County

Mandatory water restrictions take hold for Gilroy residents

New water restrictions in Gilroy

GILROY, Calif. - Water wasters are coming under scrutiny in Gilroy.  This as the city calls for mandatory water-saving measures this week.  NewsChannel 5 went to city hall to find out why cities are feeling pressure from the state to make conservation a common practice.

Gilroy said if it can't get residents to start conserving water, the California Water Resources Control Board could essentially order the city to stop providing water, until some serious changes are made.  At $10,000 a day, per violation, some lawns could get the city of Gilroy in big trouble with the state.

"The state gives us the authority to do that but we have to enforce it. And basically what they're saying is, "City, here's what we want to see. And if you don't enforce it, we're going to fine you the money.  And the only way to pay back the money is raise rates," said Mayor Don Gage.

That's why Darren Gilmore let his lawn die.  Unlike some of his neighbors, he's choosing to go brown.  But he's not happy with the way it looks.

"It sucks.  I want to water it, because it looks bad. We're on a busy street here, and it makes the whole curb appeal look horrible, so yeah, it's not good," Gilmore said.

On Monday the city put out mandatory restrictions, including no watering between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., no runoff onto sidewalks or streets and limiting watering to three days a week.  Sprinklers like these are allowed to stay on for 15 minutes.  After that you're breaking the law.

Gage said Gilroy's is getting up to speed with state's emergency regulations, making water waste a crime that could cost you $500 per day.  

"We'll probably set up a number, that people can call if they see water wasters, that you can call. And then we'll send out people to warn the first time and cite the next time," Gage said.

Some think the state should be held accountable.

"What I'm concerned about is the fact that they refuse to build more reservoirs like they should. And plan ahead for years where we'll have less than average rainfall, or multiple years of drought," said resident John Doyle.

Gilroy said it's taking responsibility by asking its residents to cut back and save, in case the rain never comes.  Businesses are also facing these new restrictions.  Restaurants are only allowed to serve water, if a customers asks first.

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