Amid ongoing drought conditions that have shown no signs of letting up, the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners voted Thursday to move to the next level of water restrictions that limit outdoor watering to two days per week.

The last time Long Beach was in Stage 2 of the department’s water shortage plan was May 2015. Starting June 1, residents in Long Beach will be restricted to outdoor irrigation on Tuesdays and Saturdays through Sept. 30.

The rules also require residents to water before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to limit the amount of water that’s lost to evaporation.

Other restrictions already in place will continue, such as the bans on outdoor watering within 48 hours of rain, washing down sidewalks or other hard surfaces without a pressurized cleaning device, or washing vehicles with a hose that doesn’t have a shutoff switch.

Long Beach is not alone in enacting restrictions for water users. Last week, Los Angeles implemented similar restrictions for its customers. Other water agencies have restricted outdoor water usage to one day per week.

Last month, commissioners debated how the new restrictions would be enforced and what days watering would be allowed with some apprehensive about turning residents and department employees into “water cops.”

However, the department said that it will not focus on fines but will work to educate customers about the new water rules in order to gain compliance.

The changes come as the state appears headed toward its third consecutive year of drought and vital reservoirs that feed the State Water Project and the Colorado River have dropped to historic lows. The State Water Project delivered just 5% of the requested amounts to water agencies this year.

Long Beach could be more resilient than other agencies because it’s less dependent on imported water—it pumps about 60% of its water from ground wells—but water officials have warned that even harsher rules could be in store if dry conditions persist.

In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order asked state water regulators to reduce the amount of water they would deliver to water agencies. Newsom’s order also asked local agencies to move into Stage 3 of their water shortage plans if the drought continues into 2023.

A full list of water use restrictions can be found here.

Editors note: The deparment’s rules for watering before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. are mandatory. The story has been updated. 

Long Beach commission may further limit watering yards amid drought

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.