A water shortage emergency is a declaration by a water agency or supplier that occurs when available water supplies are insufficient to meet normal water use demands.
In California, drought is a fact of life. Expecting and managing for water supply shortages during drought is a key component of how our State manages limited water supply during critically dry periods. At ACWD, our management strategy strives to limit the frequency, magnitude, and duration of these shortfalls through careful investment in a diversified portfolio of water supplies and storage options.
Show All Answers
Thank you for your efforts to conserve! The ordinance targets water waste, inefficient uses, and outdoor landscaping; efficient users are encouraged to keep up the good work. ACWD’s request for a 15% water use reduction through mandatory conservation measures is an annual aggregate goal for the Tri-City area as a whole, not a household-by-household goal. Individual accounts will not be subject to specific reduction levels. However, with California’s climate and increasing effects of climate change, every bit of conservation helps, so please continue to reduce. There are simple changes that all Californians can do to save water and ACWD offers a comprehensive suite of water use efficiency measures, such as rebates, technical assistance, and education programs to help. Each one of us can make a difference – working together as one community to make conservation a way of life in California.
After several critically dry years and another dry year forecasted, it is important to conserve now to save water for the future. However, it is important to care for trees so that they survive through the drought due to the multiple benefits they provide communities, such as improved air quality.
Customers must reduce outdoor water use by following the irrigation restrictions for lawns and other landscape areas outlined in ACWD’s Water Shortage Emergency Ordinance (please visit acwd.org/WSEOrdinance for specific details on restrictions). However, customers are encouraged to prioritize water for trees. Watering trees gradually but deeply will ensure they survive. Trees are best watered by hand or using a bubbler or drip irrigation system, and should be on a separate valve than the surrounding vegetation, especially if planted in a lawn area. The frequency and amount of water needed will depend on whether the tree is young and needs to be established or if it is mature, and whether it is a low, medium, or high water use species. Please add a layer of mulch around the root zone of the tree carefully avoiding the base of the trunk to lower soil temperatures and reduce the amount of water that evaporates.
Resources with specific tips on how to care for and water your tree efficiently:
Irrigation for lawns or other landscape areas using overhead irrigation (e.g. sprinklers) is limited to the following schedule:
Please note - irrigation restrictions do not apply to the following categories of use:
*Note: Maintenance of landscape for the purposes listed above should be done with drip or in-line irrigation systems, wherever feasible.
After two critically dry years, drought conditions have worsened, and long-range weather forecasts indicate that 2022 will not deliver the precipitation needed to eliminate drought locally and statewide. State water supplies are at their lowest levels in history and the California Department of Water Resources announced that the State Water Project will only allocate new water supplies that are necessary to provide for unmet minimum health and safety requirements. Additionally, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has asked its customers, including ACWD, to voluntarily reduce water demands due to drought. Because of these dry conditions and anticipated water supply constraints, ACWD declared a water shortage emergency and adopted mandatory water use restrictions, regulations, and guidelines to conserve ACWD’s water supply for the greatest public benefit with particular regard to public health, fire protection, and domestic use.
In addition to the irrigation schedule restrictions, mandatory restrictions prohibit the following:
ACWD’s water shortage emergency ordinance does not specify how long an irrigation system should run; it only limits above ground irrigation to a certain number of days per week, depending on the season. With this in mind, ACWD does prohibit runoff so we recommend using a cycle and soak method when irrigating to avoid runoff. A cycle and soak method uses shorter, more frequent cycles of irrigation in one day versus one long runtime.
To determine the time you should water for a cycle and soak method, run your irrigation system until you start to see signs of runoff (e.g. water overflowing from landscape onto sidewalk). Then, turn off your irrigation and let the landscape soak for 1 hour and repeat the process 2-3 times. Note the time it takes to begin seeing runoff – anything applied beyond this time during a single watering event is wasted.
During drought response, outdoor water use is targeted first because it has less of an impact on quality of life and economics. ACWD followed what was successful during the last drought (restricting days really helped reduce demand). For the other restrictions, many of them were already prohibited by ACWD’s Water Waste Ordinance, which aligns with water waste that is prohibited by the State of California.
ACWD also considered what type of irrigation schedule could maintain landscape viability, or in other words, reducing irrigation in a way that would allow the landscape to remain alive. Lawns can survive with two (2) irrigation days per week in the summer. Lawns may look stressed with areas of browning, but should remain alive and return when we receive sufficient rainfall. Additionally, it is better to water less frequently and more deeply (better for plants), using a cycle and soak method. But with that in mind, we are not advocating that customers increase their run times.
Exceptions to the mandatory water use restrictions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You will need to complete and submit an ACWD Mandatory Restrictions on Water Use Exception Application Form. You may appeal a denial of an application by completing and submitting an ACWD Mandatory Restrictions on Water Use Exception Appeals Form. You can obtain all forms online at acwd.org/WSEOrdinance or by visiting the ACWD Headquarters at 43885 S. Grimmer Blvd., Fremont, CA.
To report water waste, please call ACWD Customer Service during regular business hours at (510) 668-4200. You may also use our online reporting form.
On June 10, 2022, the State of California’s emergency regulation for urban water conservation went into effect. This regulation prohibits irrigation of non-functional turf at commercial, industrial, and institutional properties. This regulation also prohibits irrigation of non-functional turf in common areas of Homeowners Associations (HOAs). It does not apply to residential properties. Check out the non-functional turf fact sheet or visit the State Water Resources Control Board website for more information, including a list of frequently asked questions.
The State of California defines non-functional turf as “ground cover surface of mowed grass that is ornamental and not otherwise used for human recreation purposes.” Non-functional turf does not include school fields, sports fields, and areas regularly used for civic or community events. In other words, if the turf serves no purpose other than to look nice, it is considered non-functional.
Non-functional turf refers to areas of turf that are solely ornamental and not used for human recreation purposes. In other words, if the turf serves no purpose other than to look nice, it is considered non-functional. Example of functional turf include sports fields, school fields, and areas regularly used for civic or community events. Examples of non-functional turf may include sidewalk strips or medians in parking lots that are solely for decoration. Properties should review the areas of turf they maintain and determine whether it is functional or not and provide ACWD information regarding which areas are functional.
Areas of turf are exempt if:
On Thursday, December 9, 2021, ACWD’s Board of Directors adopted an ordinance that declared a water shortage emergency and put into effect mandatory water use restrictions, regulations, and guidelines.
Yes. On Thursday, December 9, 2021, ACWD’s Board of Directors adopted an ordinance that declares a water shortage emergency and adopts mandatory water use restrictions, regulations, and guidelines. These mandatory restrictions apply to all customers in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. For more information on the mandatory water use restrictions, visit acwd.org/WSEOrdinance.
The ordinance outlines mandatory water use restrictions, as well as voluntary water use guidelines, for all customers in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. ACWD asks all customers to follow the mandatory water use restrictions so that we can reach our goal of reducing water use across the Tri-City area by 15%. Individual accounts will not be subject to specific reduction levels.
Voluntary water use guidelines recommend the following indoor and outdoor water conservation measures to help reduce water use.
For the full list of guidelines, please refer to ACWD’s Water Shortage Emergency Ordinance at acwd.org/WSEOrdinance.
If you witness a violation to the mandatory water use restrictions in place, you can report the violation to ACWD by completing our Water Waste Reporting Form at acwd.org/reportwaste or by calling our Water Use Efficiency team at 510.668.4218.
If ACWD determines that a customer is violating the mandatory water use restrictions, ACWD will follow a 3-step process to address the violation:
Pursuant to California Water Code Section 31029, use of water in violation of the restrictions in the Ordinance is a misdemeanor.
For an extensive list of water efficient tips and techniques for different types of landscape, check out ACWD’s Survival Tips for Your Landscape resource. See below for some key recommendations:
Active recreation use areas, such as those within public parks, sports fields, and school grounds, provide a benefit to the general public, so they are allocated one additional day of irrigation per week than what is outlined in the ordinance schedule.
ACWD’s Ordinance Declaring a Water Shortage Emergency and Adopting Water Use Regulations, Restrictions, and Guidelines (“Ordinance”) aims to conserve the District’s water supply for the greatest public benefit with particular regard to public health, fire protection, and domestic use. The Ordinance does this by eliminating water waste, targeting inefficient uses, minimizing landscape irrigation, and restricting other non-essential uses. Decorative water fountains fall within the category of non-essential use and are therefore prohibited by the Ordinance. Some fountains do not recirculate water and are continuously filled as they are emptied. This type of fountain wastes a lot of water. But even a fountain that recirculates water needs to be regularly ‘topped off’ with water to make up for evaporative losses. The amount of water required to maintain a fountain depends on whether or not it recirculates water, the surface area of the water in the fountain, and weather conditions.
The water shortage emergency will remain in effect until ACWD's water supply has stabilized.
California is no stranger to drought, but 2013-2014 and 2020-2021 are two of California’s driest years in 150 years. More significantly, these recent dry years exhibit characteristics of changed precipitation patterns that are anticipated to occur with climate change – notably a shorter rainy season and a longer dry season. ACWD is working with water resources managers throughout the state to study and prepare for climate change and develop adaption plans for the new weather patterns; the challenges of today’s drought form a learning opportunity for better management tomorrow – a silver lining!
A well-maintained lawn can withstand a drought year with reduced watering so we ask customers to follow the irrigation restrictions and guidelines set in the ordinance to reduce their water use, while helping their lawn establish a stronger root system. Lawns may look stressed with areas of browning, but should remain alive and return when we receive sufficient rainfall and/or the water shortage emergency is declared over and restrictions are lifted.
After two critically dry years, ACWD maintained sufficient water supply for 2021. This comes thanks to past investments in water supply reliability made by our customers including water-use efficiency and conservation, local groundwater recharge at Quarry Lakes, brackish groundwater desalination, water supply contracts with the State and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Regional Water System, and remote groundwater banking in Kern County.
However, forecasts indicate an elevated chance of a third dry year in 2022. Because of continued dry conditions and anticipated water supply constraints, ACWD’s available water supply levels in 2022 will not be enough to meet ordinary water use demand. ACWD asks all customers to follow water use restrictions and prohibitions to save water and reduce use by 15% to reserve supplies for the greatest public benefit, with particular regard to public health, fire protection, and domestic use.
ACWD is required by law to conduct a Water Supply Assessment for new developments to ensure sufficient supply. In addition, ACWD’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan includes the option to place a moratorium on new development, new water service connections, and expanded services in the case of an extremely critical shortage, unless they are required for health and safety. To date, ACWD has not determined a need to temporarily suspend new water service connections.
For all program information, please visit ACWD’s rebates page.
Yes. ACWD has declared a water shortage emergency and adopted water use restrictions, regulations, and guidelines that limit irrigation of lawns. Please see the image below for a summary of the lawn irrigation restrictions. Please visit acwd.org/WSEOrdinance for full details.
ACWD encourages customers to install water-efficient landscapes and provides a rebate to customers that replace existing lawns with this type of landscape. There are many benefits to installing water-efficient landscape rather than a new lawn:
While artificial turf requires less water than a natural turf lawn, there are healthier and more ecologically sound alternatives. In addition to saving water, low water use plants and permeable landscape material meet additional sustainability goals that artificial turf and concrete do not:
1) Artificial turf and concrete are not a living landscape and do not increase biodiversity of plant, animal, and insect populations.
2) Artificial turf has potential environmental concerns. It is synthetic material that will have to be replaced in 10-20 years due to wear and tear, so it will eventually end up in a landfill.
3) Artificial turf is not water free. It needs to be cleaned with water and potentially with chemicals. This raises the concern of chemical pollutants from the cleaning materials, and potentially from the artificial turf itself, polluting surface water and groundwater in the runoff.
4) Artificial turf and concrete can get significantly hotter than surrounding air temperatures and contribute to the heat island effect by increasing air temperatures in urban settings.
Please visit ACWD’s Water Use Efficiency Efforts webpage to learn more about how ACWD is leading the way in using water wisely.
Yes. As stated in ACWD’s Water Shortage Emergency Ordinance, the draining and subsequent refilling of all existing swimming pools, except for protection of public health and safety, is prohibited. If you believe you require an exception to this mandatory restriction due to public health and safety concerns, please complete an ACWD Mandatory Restrictions on Water Use Exception Application Form. Exceptions to the mandatory water use restrictions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You can obtain the form online at acwd.org/exceptionform or by visiting the ACWD Headquarters at 43885 S. Grimmer Blvd., Fremont, CA.
Flushing is necessary for the District to stay compliant with various permits and regulation. It also reduces sediments, improves water quality, and enhances overall system performance. The main cleaning program is usually a 6-month project however this year, due to drought and for consistency with ACWD’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan, the program is only 3-months and therefore reducing the program’s water use by 50%. To learn more about the main cleaning program, please visit: www.acwd.org/maincleaning.
To learn more about the main cleaning program, please visit: www.acwd.org/maincleaning.
To learn more about the main cleaning program, please visit: www.acwd.org/maincleaning.
The State of California currently does not offer a lawn removal rebate program. Customers are encouraged to take advantage of the water-efficient landscape rebate program that ACWD offers so that they can save water and money by replacing their water thirsty lawn with a water-efficient landscape.
ACWD's Board approved an increase in the rebate amount for the Water-Efficient Landscape (WEL) rebate from $1/square foot to $2/square foot on June 10, 2021. ACWD is always evaluating enhancements to its water conservation programs to better serve customers in their efforts to conserve water. This may include changes to rebate amounts; however, our Board must first approve this kind of change. Currently, the rebate amount is set at $2/square foot of lawn removed and will remain so for the time being.
Effective March 1, 2022, ACWD implemented a Water Shortage Emergency Stage Rate, commonly called a drought surcharge, based on the mandatory 15% systemwide conservation during the current drought emergency. Notice of the proposed Stage Rate was mailed to all customers in December 2021 and was approved at a public hearing in February 2022. The surcharge amount is $0.787 per unit of water, which is 100 cubic feet or about 748 gallons. Customers who are able to conserve 15% will not see an increase in their overall bill.
The purposes of the surcharge are to encourage conservation and ensure sufficient revenues to cover the cost of providing water service while consumption is lower during the drought emergency. The surcharge is not designed to increase ACWD’s revenue – ideally customers will conserve 15%. As a public agency, ACWD does not make a profit and all funds collected will be used to provide water service or mitigate future surcharges or rate increases.
Stage Rates are set up incrementally to reflect the required levels of conservation needed to ensure a reliable water supply. If the drought worsens and more conservation is needed, the Stage Rate could increase with 30-days advance notice to customers. Conversely, when water supplies return to normal and the District is able to rescind its drought declaration, the Stage Rate would also be rescinded.
ACWD currently offers a rebate for replacing lawns with water-efficient landscape. Lawns tend to be the highest water use landscape, so replacing your lawn with water-efficient landscape will ensure you maximize your water savings.
The customer must have stopped the wasteful use of water and have paid all charges owed to the District under the Ordinance before the District will restore full water service. When water service is returned, the customer will be charged applicable fees established in the District’s Rate and Fee Schedule. For more questions regarding the rate and fee schedule, contact customer service at (510) 668 – 4200.
You can also review the document here.