Long Beach residents and businesses will soon be restricted to watering their lawns Tuesdays and Saturdays only, as part of a Stage Two Water Supply Shortage plan approved by the Board of Water Commissioners during a special meeting this morning.

The plan responds to a 16 percent water reduction target for the city—mandated by the State Water Resources Control Board—to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of a 25 percent overall reduction in residential water use.

“We understand people need some time to adapt, so our enforcement will be little at the beginning,” LBWD Planning and Conservation Director Matthew Lyons said.

The watering schedule will become effective five days after a public announcement, and will continue until further notice, Long Beach Water Department officials stated. The officials did not specify the date of the public announcement. 

More than a dozen restrictions are already in place since previous shortage declarations, including mandating restaurants to only serve water at a customer’s request, the use of shut-off devices on hoses when washing a car, and the amount of time one can irrigate.

The plan was met with unanimous support, though commissioners brought up a few concerns.

Commissioner Frank Martinez felt the change of watering days would confuse the public, who have become accustomed to Mondays and Thursdays.

Lyons defended its necessity, stating the public will be able to keep a regular eye on faulty irrigation systems on days they are home.

“They can see for themselves if there is excessive runoff, if there is a break on the system,” Lyons said.

If the city is unable to meet its assigned conservation standards, the state water board has the authority to assess fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Worried about how the city would be able to pay for such possible fines, Commissioner Robert Shannon proposed the possibility of increasing rates.

LBWD Assistant General Manager Anatole Falagan alerted the commissioner of the range of alternatives, from raising rates to utilizing the department’s financial reserves to fund the fines.

One of the few exceptions to the schedule will be the watering of city parks on Tuesdays and Fridays, because of the amount of public use on weekends.

Those participating in the Lawn-to-Garden turf replacement program during the summer will not be exempt from the watering schedule, LBWD Administrative Intern Michael Mori said.

Instead, the LBWD has extended its time frame for participants to complete their projects, giving residents time to “kill their grass” and hold off on planting until October, when the weather cools and water is more retainable.

Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.