Drought Information

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Save Water
Our watershed is currently experiencing what may become the driest period ever recorded, but we can all do our part to preserve and extend our water supply through this dry period.

This winter, following a year of well below average rainfall totals, the City of Cotati distributed water saving information provided by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership to encourage water-saving behaviors. As rainfall totals remained low in 2020/21, for the second consecutive year, Cotati began messaging to customers about the extremely dry weather in early spring to raise awareness and connect customers with water-saving resources. To encourage continued conservation, Cotati’s City Council adopted a 20% voluntary community-wide water conservation target on May 25.

In recognition of the ongoing drought conditions, below average rainfall and reservoir storage, California Governor Gavin Newsom officially declared a regional drought emergency for Sonoma and Mendocino counties on April 21, 2021. Sonoma Water, the wholesale water supplier to Cotati and the region, has two reservoirs, Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, which provide the majority of the region’s water supply and are at the lowest levels ever recorded for this time of year. To preserve water supply, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a Temporary Urgency Change Order in June to Sonoma Water to “maintain reduced flows in the upper Russian River Watershed and include reduced flows in Dry Creek and the Lower Russian River. These reduced flows will help preserve storage in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma through the summer and into the fall. For more information on the State's Order please go to SonomaWater.org.

How is the City of Cotati responding to the regional drought emergency?

Cotati has been very active in outreach to our customers since we first launched a dry weather outreach beginning in February 2021 in unison with the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. In May, Cotati launched a robust drought outreach campaign and, on May 25, Cotati City Council adopted a 20% voluntary community-wide water use reduction target.

What does a 20% voluntary reduction in water use mean?

During a drought, it is important that we all do our part to save water. Every gallon or drop saved preserves water in our local reservoirs. For example, Cotati customers should eliminate water waste and adopt water-saving habits. Water waste, like leaks and breaks or overspray from irrigation are prohibited. For water-saving tips, free devices, rebates, and more, visit our water conversation webpage.

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. Cotati appreciates all our customers that have made permanent and significant efforts to reduce water use. If you have already eliminated water waste and are using water efficiently indoors and outdoors, we encourage you to continue doing so. If you’re interested in exploring whether there are additional ways you can reduce water use during this drought, please visit our website here for potential ideas (and check out our rebate programs!). Also, sign up for water leak alerts at cotati.waterinsight.com.

We are also asking that all residents practice water-saving behaviors, look for opportunities to replace inefficient water using appliances and/or transform turf grass into low water use landscapes. Cotati offers free water-saving devices, rebates, tips, and more to help customers reduce water use. Need assistance? Contact us at today at 707-665-3638.

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 percent of annual water use for single-family residences even though most irrigation occurs only 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%. Please visit our Water Conservation here for a list of tips and rebates to help you eliminate water waste, reduce water use, and improve water use efficiency.

Water for landscapes can double water use from May to October. We offer weather-based watering recommendations and can complete a Water Smart outdoor assessment to help you irrigate more efficiently. We also offer rebates for some irrigation system improvements and for converting turf grass to low water use landscaping. Contact us at 707-665-3638 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?

Check your water bill or go to cotati.waterinsight.com to sign up for leak alerts and get access to your hourly water use.

Is the City enforcing any water use prohibitions?

Yes, Cotati has a Water Waste Ordinance in place that prohibits waste of water due to breaks, leaks, or excess use. This means that leaking faucets, toilets, and appliances, broken irrigation pipes, leaking irrigation valves, or broken sprinkler heads must be repaired in a timely way. Also, the Ordinance prohibits water runoff from your property due to any reason, for example from overwatering your yard or misdirected sprinklers that “water” sidewalks.

How does the City enforce the Water Waste Ordinance?

The City has implemented water waste patrols to identify properties that are not complying with the City’s Water Waste Ordinance. When water waste is identified, Cotati will contact property owners to inform them of the issue and to provide education and resources for efficient irrigation practices. Customers are responsible for managing and repairing their irrigation systems to avoid overspray and runoff. Excessive outdoor water use may be in violation of City of Cotati regulations.

How do I report water waste?

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, report the issue to Cotati by completing the Report a Problem from the Public Works web page. Our Public Works staff will investigate the matter and follow up as needed.

How will my water bill be affected?

Customers who reduce their water usage will see a decrease in the water portion of their bimonthly water bill.

What resources are available to help me reduce my water use?

The City offers many programs and incentives to assist customers in reducing water use, eliminating water waste, and improving water use efficiency. In addition to the rebates and incentives listed below, the City’s Water Use Efficiency team provides FREE do-it-yourself WaterSmart Home check-up kits and in-person on-site visits to assess irrigation efficiency and make recommendations.

Free water-saving devices: high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, shut-off hose nozzles, dye tabs, toilet flappers (to check for toilet leaks)

Rebates: qualifying high-efficiency washing machines, rebates for qualifying toilets, Cash for Grass for lawn conversion and irrigation efficiency upgrades

Programs: Free indoor and outdoor water use surveys and recommendations, and free subscription for all customers to the Water Insight website, which allows you to set up leak alerts, see how your usage compares with your neighbors, get customized recommendations and much more!

For more information contact us at 707-665-3638, or go to the City's Water Conservation page here. 

What will happen if we do not get rain this coming winter?

Water supplies will continue to decrease if we do not have significant rain this fall and winter. Based on available regional water supply from Sonoma Water the City may need to implement additional restrictions on water use as defined in the City’s Water Shortage Plan.

How are other cities affected?

Every water supplier is affected by water supply shortages differently. Some water providers have the ability to store greater volumes of water or have access to more local supplies, such as groundwater or recycled water. Water use and customer type also varies from water supplier to water supplier. To respond to dry conditions, all water suppliers in California have Urban Water Shortage Contingency Plans, which define actions to meet anticipated water supply shortfalls of up to 50%.

Other Sonoma County agencies that purchase water from the Sonoma County Water Agency, are all requesting a 20% water reduction.

Why do we continue to allow new building and development during a water shortage?

The City of Cotati’s prudent and cost-effective long-term water supply planning means that occurrences of single and multiple dry years do not automatically mean water supply capacity is limited for planned development. The City’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan outlines how the City will respond to a reduction in regional water supply deliveries from Sonoma Water, our wholesale water supplier.

I own a pool. What can I do to help save water?

These are a few main tips for saving water as a pool owner:
1. Use a bubble cover or liquid solar blanket especially at night.
2. Reduce added heat sources to your pool from gas or solar heaters
3. Don’t backwash your filters. Clean them or replace your filter with a system that doesn’t require backwashing.
4. Avoid cannon balls and large splashes to minimize splash out.
Call your local pool supply company for these and other tips and for water saving products.
Waste Water Prohibition
Cotati’s Water Waste Ordinance prohibits waste of water due to breaks, leaks, or excess use. This includes:

• Leaking faucets, toilets, and appliances.
• Broken irrigation pipes, leaking irrigation valves, or broken sprinkler heads.
• Water runoff from your property outdoors. For example, overwatering your yard or misdirected sprinklers that “water” sidewalks and runoff into gutters is considered water waste.

Report Water Waste Here
Additional Resources

Cotati's WaterInsight Portal 
The WaterInsight Portal will help you track and analyze your water use online.

Cash for Grass Rebate
The City of Cotati is offering residential and commercial customers rebates in return for reducing the amount of lawn area in their landscapes and replacing with low water use landscapes.

Water Conservation
Visit the City of Cotati's Water Conservation web page for additional information on ways you can help conserve.  

Outdoor Water-Saving Tips

  • Make sure all hoses have an automatic shut off nozzle (we provide free nozzles!).
  • Limit irrigation to the hours of 8pm to 6am (less evaporation).
  • Use the City’s WaterInsight portal for irrigation recommendations to adjust irrigation schedules.
  • Replace high water use turf with low water use landscaping (contact us first – you could get a rebate!)
  • Sweep hard surfaces instead of using water (driveways, sidewalks, patios).
  • If you need to get your car washed, go to sites that recycled the water.
  • Cover pools and spas when not in use to prevent evaporation.
  • Install a greywater system so you can reuse your laundry water to irrigate your yard (contact us first – you could get a rebate!).
  • Install rainwater capture system so you can reuse rain water later (contact us first – you could get a rebate!).

Indoor Water-Saving Tips

  • Complete a do-it-yourself WaterSmart check up (we provide kits!).
  • Check toilets for leaks every few months (we provide free dye tabs!)
  • Replace old showerheads with high efficiency models (we provide these to customers for free!).
  • Fix leaks quickly.
  • Replace old faucet aerators with high efficiency fixtures (we provide these to customers for free!)
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Only run dishwashers and clothes washers with full loads.
  • Install hot water recirculating pumps (contact us first – you could get a rebate!).