Riverside Public Utilities

Don’t Doubt the Drought

A drought is a prolonged period with less-than-average amounts of rain or snow in a region. California’s temperature and precipitation have been very warm and dry over the past couple of years.

Winters are becoming shorter and drier, while summers are longer and hotter. This variable climate pattern has become the norm in California and has impacted water supply basins with some water storage levels reaching new record lows.

These environmental impacts are affecting the water supplies for the City of Riverside. The groundwater level in the local Riverside and San Bernardino basins from which the City produces its drinking water supplies have decreased steadily over the past 24 years. While there is no immediate shortage of available water, it will benefit the community to make small changes in how we use water outdoors to protect our water supplies into the future.


Latest Drought Information

Due to persistent and extreme drought conditions, on March 28, 2022 the Governor called for increased water-savings directing the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to consider an emergency drought regulation to ensure more aggressive water conservation. Effective June 10, 2022, SWRCB adopted emergency drought regulation which includes

  • Water providers must implement actions identified with their Water Shortage Contingency Plan - Level 2 to obtain targeted water savings of 10%-20%.
  • Banning the use of potable water to irrigate non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors, including HOAs. The ban does not include turf at residences or turf used for recreation or community purposes and does not prohibit the use of water to the extent necessary to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings.

Learn more about the SWRCB drought emergency regulations.

STEP UP YOUR WATER SAVING EFFORTS


RPU Water Use Regulations

While Riverside Public Utilities is prepared to meet the City’s current water supply needs, customers are urged to implement the following actions to eliminate water waste and increase water saving efforts:

  • Irrigate between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 AM to avoid losses to evaporation
  • Water outdoor landscapes no more than three times per week
  • All automatic irrigation timers shall be adjusted to the irrigation time restrictions and changing weather patterns, and shall completely eliminate run-off
  • Use of graywater and recycled water for irrigation is permitted on any day and time
  • All leaks, improperly adjusted sprinklers, or other water appurtenances requiring repair or adjustment shall be corrected within 72 hours of notification by the City
  • Construction operations receiving water from a construction meter or water truck shall not use water unnecessarily for any purpose, other than required by regulatory agencies
  • Construction projects requiring watering for new landscaping materials shall adhere to the designated non-agricultural irrigation requirements set forth above
  • Commercial, industrial, and institutional customers, including HOAs, will be restricted from irrigating non-functional turf with potable water (unless turf is a low water use grass and the customer can demonstrate water applied is appropriately low)

As a reminder, the wasteful water activities below are always prohibited in the City of Riverside per the Water Conservation Ordinance regardless of shortage level or drought emergency order.

  • Irrigation runoff
  • Use of Hoses dispensing potable water without a shut-off nozzle
  • Hosing driveways or sidewalks
  • The use of potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system
  • Outdoor watering during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall
  • Serving drinking water other than upon request in eating/drinking establishments
  • Irrigation with potable water of landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and buildings in a manner inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development

​​If you see water waste happening in Riverside, please visit RiversideCA.gov/311 to report the activity.​


Save Our Water & Our City of Trees

Check out our Outdoor and Indoor water rebates to support water-saving efforts and follow these additional Indoor & Outdoor Water Efficiency and Conservation tips to help stretch our water supplies further into the future.

Drought conditions are expected to intensify so we need to make sure we’re using water responsibly and making every drop count. This includes prioritizing your trees. Trees are investments that would take more water, time, and money to replace if lost to drought versus keeping them alive. So, remember to give those trees the TLC they’ll need throughout the drought.

Follow these quick Tree Care Tips:

  • Mulch to conserve moisture
  • Newly planted trees (less than two years old) will need five gallons of water, once a week. A bucket is great for this. Water the area under the dripline.
  • Young trees (less than three years old) are starting to get established and require a deep watering of ten gallons, once every two weeks under the dripline.
  • Mature trees (older than 3 years) need deep watering. Water deeply within the dripline when the top six inches of soil around your mature tree has dried out or once per month.

Learn more Tree Care Tips by visiting:

California Urban Forests Council | Growing Trees Make Great Communities

Save Our Water and Our Trees | California ReLeaf

Save Our Water and Our Trees | Canopy


Drought FAQs

After continuous dry winters and many of California’s largest reservoirs dropping to historic lows, the State of California drought conditions become more severe. Learn more about current drought status by visiting https://www.drought.gov/states/california.

The City of Riverside receives its water from local groundwater basins, which are replenished by rain and snow, though at a lower rate than normal.  Riverside has many years’ worth of water in reserve. While there is no near-term risk to Riverside’s water supplies, there may be a long-term risk which is why saving water today is so important for our future.
100% of  Riverside’s water comes from local groundwater supplies. Riverside extracts its water from three groundwater basins: Bunker Hill Basin, Rialto-Colton Basin, and the Riverside Basin. Riverside’s water rights are based on natural recharge over a 40-year hydrologic (precipitation) cycle.

Due to persistent and extreme drought conditions, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-7-22 on March 28, 2022, directing the State Water Board to consider adopting emergency regulations for urban water conservation. The emergency drought regulation requires water providers to implement Level 2 shortage response actions identified in the supplier’s water shortage contingency plan for a shortage level of 10-20% on the State’s standard shortage levels. Locally, this corresponds to Riverside’s Stage 2 (15% demand reduction) – Minimum Water Shortage Level.

The emergency drought regulation also bans the use of potable water to irrigate non-functional turf (solely ornamental in use) in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors and HOAs. The regulation, however, does not prohibit the use of water to the extent necessary to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings or the watering of the non-functional turf if it is a low water use variety (using 40% of the water required by cool-season turf grass) and is demonstrated to be watered appropriately. Learn more about the SWRCB drought emergency regulations.

Riverside will call on customers to implement the following actions:

  • Irrigate between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 AM to avoid losses to evaporation
  • Water outdoor landscapes no more than three times per week
  • All automatic irrigation timers shall be adjusted to the irrigation time restrictions and changing weather patterns, and shall completely eliminate run-off
  • Use of graywater and recycled water for irrigation is permitted on any day and time
  • All leaks, improperly adjusted sprinklers, or other water appurtenances requiring repair or adjustment shall be corrected within 72 hours of notification by the City
  • Construction operations receiving water from a construction meter or water truck shall not use water unnecessarily for any purpose, other than required by regulatory agencies
  • Construction projects requiring watering for new landscaping materials shall adhere to the designated non-agricultural irrigation requirements set forth above
  • Commercial, industrial, and institutional customers, including HOAs, will be restricted from irrigating non-functional turf with potable water (unless turf is a low water use grass and the customer can demonstrate water applied is appropriately low)

Wasteful water activities detailed in the Water Conservation Ordinance are always prohibited regardless of shortage level or drought emergency order.

  • Irrigation runoff
  • Use of Hoses dispensing potable water without a shut-off nozzle
  • Hosing driveways or sidewalks
  • The use of potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system
  • Outdoor watering during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall
  • Serving drinking water other than upon request in eating/drinking establishments
  • Irrigation with potable water of landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and buildings in a manner inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development

The State Water Board’s emergency drought regulation defines non-functional turf as turf that is ornamental and not otherwise used for human recreation purposes such as school field, sport fields, and parks.

It does not apply to residential customers. This only applies to commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors and HOA non-functional turf areas. Individual homes within HOAs will not be affected. HOAs are encouraged to consult with residents on what turf is functional within the HOA’s properties.

Yes, trees provide multiple benefits to the community and environment. Trees should be irrigated appropriately to meet their water needs. You can find more information and resources on watering trees by visiting the following websites:

California Urban Forests Council | Growing Trees Make Great Communities

Save Our Water and Our Trees | California ReLeaf

Save Our Water and Our Trees | Canopy

Save Our Water and Our Trees | Watering Mature Trees

Yes. Currently, there are no restrictions against filling or refilling swimming pools. However, we highly recommend that you consider installing a pool cover to reduce evaporation.
Yes, water play is allowed. However, water running down the driveway and sidewalk is considered waste and not allowed.
If you spot water runoff or other water waste, you may report it through the 311 mobile app or online form. Please make sure to provide exact address and identify the water waste issue.
Western customers can get more information at wmwd.com.   


Resources

Maintaining a Healthy Landscape in a Drought | Helpful Tips (PDF)

Eastern Municipal Water District | emwd.org

Western Municipal Water District | wmwd.com/drought

Save Water and Money with RPU Rebates | RiversidePublicUtilities.com/Rebates

Save Water. Save California | SaveOurWater.com

Save Our Water and Our Trees | California ReLeaf

California Urban Forests Council | Growing Trees Make Great Communities

State Water Resources Control Board | FAQ (Updated June 6, 2022)