Cotati enacts Stage 2 of water plan
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By Dave Williams  August 14, 2014 10:18 am

The Cotati City Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution enacting Stage 2 of the Cotati Water Shortage Contingency Plan at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12.

With California in the third year of a severe drought, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 20 percent voluntary reduction in water use. Cotati enacted the voluntary conservation plan on Feb. 25. 

Since the governor’s call, water usage throughout California actually increased. But Cotati businesses and residents responded by reducing their water usage 12 percent from January to June.

Stage 2 makes 20 percent outdoor water usage reduction from 2013 mandatory and brings it in line with the regional move to mandatory water reduction. 

The emergency regulations provide water retailers with the ability to fine customers $500 per day for violations of the prohibitions. The Cotati staff report says the city’s goal is to “educate its customers, maintain its  relationship with customers, and achieve the required reduction in water use, not fine its customers.” 

If necessary, the Cotati Municipal Code provides the city the ability to apply progressive enforcement for violations, up to and including termination of service. 

The Sonoma County Water Agency requested a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) from the State Water Resources Board to reduce the required in stream flows in the Russian River upstream of Dry Creek. The intent was to preserve as much storage in Lake Mendocino as possible, given the uncertain outlook for rain during the remainder of the winter.  

The TUCP is now expired ,and the releases from Lake Mendocino have now reverted to the water rights permit under D1610, which requires certain minimum flows at several locations on the Russian River to ensure adequate in-stream flows for water supply, agriculture, fisheries and other beneficial uses.  

As of Aug. 4, Lake Sonoma was 66 percent full and Lake Mendocino was 34 percent full. Lake Sonoma is at its lowest level since it was operational in 1983. Lake Mendocino is at its lowest level since 1977. The county relies on both lakes for its water supply. 

The Sonoma County Water Agency intends to petition the State with another TUCP in mid-August, in conjunction with  Mendocino County, to again lower the releases from Lake Mendocino. 

Because of the statewide drought, California on July 15 adopted emergency drought regulations that go into effect within 30 days of approval from the Office of Administrative Law and will remain in effect for 270 days. 

The adopted emergency regulations list several prohibited activities, all of which are prohibited in Cotati at all times under the city’s Water Waste Prohibitions. Cotati actually has prohibitions that are not on the state’s list.

The Cotati list of prohibitions includes:

• The washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots and other hard-surfaced areas by direct hosing, except as may be necessary to dispose of flammable or other dangerous liquids or substances.

• The escape of water through breaks or leaks within the customers plumbing or private distribution system for any substantial period of time within which such break or lead should reasonably have been discovered and corrected.

• Irrigation in a manner or to an extent that allows excessive runoff of water or unreasonable overspray of the areas being watered.

• Washing cars, boats, trailers or other vehicles and machinery directly with a hose not equipped with a shutoff nozzle.

• Water for non-recycling decorative water fountains.

• Water for single pass evaporative cooling systems for air conditioning in all connects installed after the effective date of the ordinance filed, unless required for safety reasons.

• Water for non-recirculating conveyor car wash systems.


• Water for non-recirculating industrial clothes wash systems.


If Cotati fails to comply with state emergency regulations, the state may issue a cease and desist order, which triggers liability of up to $10,000 per day.

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