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Nevada City, Grass Valley impose water restrictions

Nevada City and Grass Valley city councils act on drought


A mandatory reduction of water use went into effect Wednesday in Grass Valley that includes city personnel as well as residents.

Nevada City imposed its own water restrictions last week.

Grass Valley’s reduction actually increases the water reduction use from 10% to 20% since the previous restriction, said City Manager Tim Kiser. The city for its part will focus on keeping athletic fields green while reducing irrigation of other city landscapes by 20% or more.

“Luckily, Memorial Park will be going to artificial turf and save a significant amount of water,” Kiser said. “Another thing, construction on the city pool started and has been drained, so that’ll keep us saving substantial amounts of water.”

After lengthy discussion the City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the water reduction. Council Member Tom Ivy wasn’t present.

Kiser said city staff has already made adjustments to irrigation timers for further reductions. The other major initiative is to deliver notices to city businesses and constituents to conserve water.

“And we should all be praying for a very wet winter,” added Kiser. “And if the Farmer’s Almanac is correct, it is going to be a wet winter. And that should put us back into a good situation for water.”

An additional conservation measure will be to put a tab on the city’s website informing residents of the need to conserve water and take wildfire safety precautions, said Mayor Ben Aguilar.

Kiser reminded council members that Grass Valley receives half of its water from the city itself and the other half from the Nevada Irrigation District. NID will soon recommend a 20% reduction and advise homeowners to restrict watering lawns and plants to just a few days per week, as well as doing that watering only between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m., so as not to waste water to evaporation during hotter daylight hours.

Kiser said every water meter in the city has electronic metering, and city staff can read the meters at will. The city can then determine whether current water usage has indeed reduced 20% from this time when compared to last year.

“Having gone through this drought in the past, we believe educating the public will get us to a 20% reduction,” Kiser said. “But for those who fail to comply, they will get letters and there is a possibility of fines. Yet we’d rather rely on warnings. Now we need to get the message across to residents.”

Council member Bob Branstrom echoed that approach. “Let’s start with education, and then you go to some sort of enforcement mechanism,” he said. “We can do education with kindness rather than preaching.”


Nevada City Manager Joan Phillipe said in a press release that the City Council in a Friday special meeting made a declaration of a Drought Stage 3 Warning, effective immediately.

“With rainfall this season being at historic lows, the council made the decision based on information from the NID combined with input from city staff on the city’s system and water usage,” Phillipe said.

A Stage 3 Warning carries a mandatory water restriction, including reducing water usage by 20% of 2020 water usage levels. This includes limiting watering of outdoor plants to twice a week, washing cars with a bucket and garden hoses with shut-off nozzles, and shutting off all outdoor water features. The city also cautions residents to not wash off sidewalks or driveways.

Nevada City will also contact local restaurants and taverns cautioning them to serve water only upon customer request. And hotels and motels are advised to limit laundering towels and linens to multi-day guests only on specific requests.

Bryan McAlister, city engineer for Nevada City, said Drought Stage 3 signage was posted at multiple downtown intersections that are highly visible. Notices were mailed out last week to every property owner who receives water. Additionally, notices may appear in water bills, but since they are mailed only every other month, the mailers were more efficient.

During the 2015-16 drought, Nevada City managed to reduce water usage by 30%, McAlister said. And some of the measures employed then are still in use, such as recycling water for the wastewater treatment plant and reduction of sprinklers in all parks.

“It really makes a difference when people reduce water use, and we feel confident we can do this together,” said McAlister.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com

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