Novato Area Drought FAQs
- How is the North Marin Water District responding to the regional drought emergency?
In early 2021, the North Marin Water District, as part of the Sonoma Marin Saving Water Partnership, launched an aggressive public outreach campaign to emphasize the need to save water by highlighting actions customers can take to reduce water use and improve water use efficiency. The District also approved Ordinance 41 in March of 2021 (amended in May 2021) which prohibits water waste and non-essential use of water (See FAQ 6 below for a list of current water use prohibitions). This is in addition to the District’s year-round conservation campaign efforts. The District’s current regional water use of 113 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) represents a 28% reduction in water use, well ahead of the State’s required 20% reduction in per capita per day water use by 2020.
- What is considered efficient water-use?
Home water use varies based on the number of occupants, habits, and the efficiency level of water-using fixtures installed. Home water use also fluctuates seasonally based on the size and type of irrigated landscape, with outdoor use accounting for approximately 50% of annual water use for single-family residences even though most irrigation occurs during the six months from May through October.
Indoor water use can typically be met using no more than 50 gallons per person per day, with more efficient homes using as little as 25-30 gallons per person per day. For a family of four, average indoor use ranges from around 3,000 gallons to 6,000 gallons per month. Even if you aren’t sure about your usage per day, you can help us achieve our critical goal of reducing water use community-wide by 20%.
Water for irrigating landscapes can more than double water use from May to October. The District offers many rebates for irrigation system improvements and for converting turf grass to low water use landscaping. Visit our website at www.nmwd.com/save-water for detailed information on all our conservation programs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-761-8944 before starting a project to make sure it meets requirements to be eligible for a rebate.
- How can I figure out how much water I use and how much water I am saving?
Visit https://nmwd.com/account/watersmart/ to access the WaterSmart portal. This portal can give you hourly and daily water use data along with more historical data for comparison purposes. The portal also allows you to set up leak and high use alerts via text, email or phone call.
- How do I cut back my water use if I’m already efficient with my water use?
The request for a 20% reduction in water use is a collective, community-wide, target and not necessarily an individual target. The only time the 20% reduction would be examined on an individual customer basis is if you have overhead spray irrigation and are identified as violating one of the other prohibited water uses. If you were not meeting the 20% reduction at that time, the District would work cooperatively with you to make further adjustments.
- How will the drought surcharge affect my water bill?
Effective until June 30, 2022, the previous drought surcharge will only affect those residential customers using above 300 gallons per day average in a billing period. For example, if the billing period is 60 days, you would not be assessed the drought surcharge for the first 18,000 gallons (60 days x 300 gallons per day). Only water use above that 300 gallons per day average will be billed the $1.00 per 1,000 gallons. The drought surcharge is applicable to all water use for non-residential customers.
For drought surcharge information effective after July 1, 2022, please refer to the restructured drought surcharge information located here.
- What mandatory water use restrictions are in place?
Below is a summary of the water-use prohibitions approved for the Novato Service Area in 2021:
- The washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots and other hard surfaced areas by direct hosing when runoff water directly flows to a gutter or storm drain.
- The escape of water through breaks or leaks within the customers’ plumbing or private distribution system for any substantial period of time within which such break or leak should reasonably have been discovered and corrected within 72 hours.
- Irrigation in a manner or to an extent which allows excessive run-off of water or unreasonable over-spray of the areas being watered.
- Washing cars, boats, trailers or other vehicles and machinery directly with a hose not equipped with a shutoff nozzle.
- Water for non-recycling decorative water fountains.
- Potable water for outdoor landscaping during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall or water on ornamental turf in public street medians.
- Drinking water other than on request in eating or dining establishments.
- Water for the daily laundering of towels and linens in hotels and motels without offering guests the option of choosing not to have daily laundering.
Non-Essential Water Use Prohibitions Effective July 1, 2021 through November 1, 2021:
- Overhead sprinkler irrigation is prohibited unless the customer can maintain a 20% reduction from 2020 water use, irrigate between 7:00pm and 9:00am, and water only three days per week assigned by Monday, Wednesday and Friday for odd addresses and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for even addresses. Drip irrigation, container and hand watering is exempt. Customers using less than 300 gallons per day are exempt from the 20% reduction but must adhere to the three days per week assignment.
- Any use of potable water from a fire hydrant except for fighting fire, human consumption, essential construction needs or use in connection with animals.
- Refilling a completely drained swimming pool and/or initial filling of any swimming pool for which application for a building permit was made after July 1, 2021.
- Non-commercial washing of privately-owned motor vehicles, trailers and boats except from a bucket and except that a hose equipped with a shut off nozzle may be used for a quick rinse.
- Use of potable water for dust control at construction sites or other locations.
- Watering any portion of a golf course with potable or raw water except the tees and greens unless the customer can maintain a 25% reduction in water use as compared to 2020.
- Is North Marin Water better prepared for drought today?
Yes. We are always working to manage our water supply effectively and efficiently. We are also looking at both short and long-term solutions to what is a statewide crisis. Here are some things we have done in the past to prepare:
- An extensive expansion of recycled water to serve large landscape areas and car washes in partnership with Novato Sanitary District and Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District.
- The District installed an Advanced Meter Information (AMI) system for all meters in the Novato Service Area. The deployment project began in March 2018 and over 21,000 meters were upgraded. The District commenced deployment of an AMI system to improve water use efficiency as well as meter reading efficiency, accuracy, and customer service. The project included meter upgrades for customers throughout NMWD’s Novato service territory. With the AMI system, digital meter data is sent securely via radio to NMWD headquarters for billing purposes. This technology provides early leak detection and enables customers to view water use information online, thereby gaining a better understanding of their water use patterns. We encourage you to “sign-in” on the portal to get acquainted with the system and learn more about your water use. Customers will now have access to hourly water use data and are able to set up alerts for high use and leak events on the WaterSmart Portal.
- A more comprehensive water conservation program was developed. We offer programs and incentives, including rebates on lawn replacements, toilet and clothes washer replacements, graywater and rainwater systems and “smart” irrigation controllers, pool covers, hot water recirculation systems, and water efficient landscape upgrades including drip conversions and mulch. Rebates were recently increased for this 2021 drought period. Visit https://nmwd.com/save-water/indoors/ or https://nmwd.com/save-water/outdoors/ for more information.
- How do I report water waste or other violations to the water use prohibitions?
If water waste is occurring at a neighbor’s property, try to contact them first. If you are unable to talk with your neighbor or identify which property is responsible or wish to remain anonymous, you can report the issue to the District by emailing email@example.com or calling 415-761-8944. We will investigate the matter and follow up as needed.
- Can I “top off” my existing pool to maintain the water level?
Yes, you can maintain the water level of your existing pool. Only refilling drained pools and initially filling new pools is prohibited after July 1.
- Am I required to cover my pool?
No, you are not required to cover your pool, however, it is recommended and North Marin Water District provides a rebate for pool covers. https://nmwd.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Pool-Cover-2021-May-1.pdf
- How many days a week am I allowed to irrigate my landscaping?
Overhead spray irrigation for your lawn and/or plants is allowed three (3) days per week with odd numbered addresses assigned to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and even numbered addresses assigned to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Drip irrigation or hand or container watering is not limited on the number of days per week in Novato, however, we still encourage you to cut back as much as reasonably possible.
- Can I water my vegetable garden or fruit trees?
Water use prohibitions do not apply to plants grown to provide food that are watered by hand, drip irrigation or containers. Watering by hand is the most efficient use of water.
- Can North Marin Water District use recycled water to help with the drought?
North Marin Water District already has an extensive recycled water program that serves large landscape irrigation customers and various car washes in portions of the north, central, and southern Novato Service Area. We continue to explore ways of expanding our recycled water for additional uses and locations.
- Is North Marin Water District considering building a desalination to address the current drought?
The District is exploring various regional solutions to expand water supply as part of a $0.6M Regional Water Supply Resilience Study funded by the District and other retail water contractors who purchase water from Sonoma County Water Agency. The Study will look at various feasible options including stormwater capture, groundwater storage and recovery and others. Desalination could also be evaluated however the previously mentioned water supply options are typically much more cost effective and not as energy intensive.
- Why isn’t North Marin Water District dredging Stafford Lake for water storage?
The District performs sediment surveys in Stafford Dam every 10 years. A future dredging project will be needed someday but current sediment accumulation levels are having a minimal impact on overall storage capacity.
- Is North Marin Water District allowing new connections during this drought?
North Marin Water District has suspended new connections to the system as of July 1 until the water shortage period has ended, with some exceptions for those who have recycled water for landscaping or defer all landscape installation until after the water shortage has ended.
- Is North Marin Water District asking residents to limit their water use to a certain amount?
The North Marin Water District service area wide goal is a 20% reduction in overall water use. We are not asking all customers to individually save 20%, unless they use overhead spray irrigation, however, water use will not be examined on an individual customer basis unless a customer has been identified as violating one of the water use prohibitions.
- What is North Marin Water District doing to help customers save water?
We offer many programs and incentives to save water, including rebates for many indoor and outdoor water-using activities. Visit our website www.nmwd.com/save-water for detailed information. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-761-8944.
- Make sure you have water-efficient fixtures such as toilets, showerheads, faucets and irrigation systems. We offer free hose shutoff nozzles, faucet aerators and showerheads to customers.
- Remove your lawn and get a Cash for Grass rebate of up to $1 per square-foot of lawn removed.
- Remove your lawn through our Lawn Be Gone Sheet Mulching Program.
- Install a smart irrigation controller that automatically adjusts to the weather to deliver just the right amount of water and receive a rebate.
- Check for leaks and fix them as soon as you find them. We offer free toilet leak detection dye tablets.
- Replace your older washing machine with a high-efficiency model and apply for a rebate of up to $100.
- Cover your pool with a new cover and get a rebate of up to $75.
- Install a new hot water recirculating system and get a rebate of up to $75.
- Replace your spray irrigation with a drip system, or mulch your existing planted areas and get a rebate of 50-75% the cost of the materials.
- Replace your old toilets (pre 1993) and get a $125 rebate.
- What are you doing about water wasters or violators to the water use prohibitions?
We intend to initially work with the customer to take corrective action. If a cooperative approach is not successful, we will issue written or verbal warnings for first time violations. A second or un-resolved first violation can result in a $250 fine and/or service disconnection, and any subsequent violations can result in a $500 fine and/or service disconnection. If you see water waste, you can report it by emailing us at email@example.com, or calling us at 415-761-8944.