Mountain View orders water cutbacks but even tougher drought measures elsewhere in California

Mountain View is the latest Bay Area city to approve new water restrictions as California deals with dry conditions for its third consecutive year.

As Bay Area residents deal with newly announced restrictions seemingly by the week the restrictions are even more severe in southern California and around the southwest.

In Mountain View, the city council has now declared a stage 2 water emergency, which calls for new water restrictions for residents with the goal of cutting water use by at least 10%. 

Most of Mountain View’s water comes from San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy system with a smaller portion from the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Both wholesale suppliers have asked their customers, such as the City of Mountain View, to cut water use based upon historical benchmarks. Additional cuts could also be requested.

Mountain View residents will have to start watering based on their street address.

Outdoor irrigation will be allowed only two days per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays for even numbered addresses with odd addresses being allowed to water on Mondays and Thursdays.

No outdoor watering is allowed at all on Wednesday, except with a garden hose that has a shut-off spray nozzle.  

The new restrictions do not end there.

"So we are asking customers not to wash their vehicles at home except with a bucket. Also, the council has restricted the use of water to wash down pavement except for health and safety reasons," said Elizabeth Flegel, the city’s water resources manager.

But if you think restrictions are tough here in the Bay Area consider southern California.

The regional Metropolitan Water District wholesale supplier is calling for a whopping 35% reduction in water use.

For Los Angeles that meant immediate new restrictions announced by mayor Eric Garcetti, cutting the number of watering days from three to two, the same as Mountain View. But Los Angeles' rules allow just eight minutes per watering station in most cases.  

In San Fernando Valley the Los Virgenes Water District, which also serves parts of Ventura County, has already ordered outdoor watering cut to just one day per week.

In Nevada what is called "nonfunctional," or purely ornamental, grass has been permanently outlawed. 

Why some tougher measures elsewhere? It all comes down to the sources of water. Lake Mead, which provides much of the Southwest’s water, is just 28% full and within 150 feet of a level where water can no longer be released through Hoover Dam. 

The water restrictions already enacted elsewhere could also potentially come to the Bay Area depending on local water supplies and also how residents do with conservation efforts.

"Well we respond to the conditions at the moment," said Flegel. "Our stage 2 restrictions do allow us to establish a watering schedule anywhere from one day a week to three days per week. And right now we are at the need for a two-day limit."