Since 1991, the Water Use Efficiency team has been helping Santa Rosa residents reduce water use. In fact, this team has helped Santa Rosa achieve a 14% reduction in water use over the last 30 years, while the population has increased.
During this intense and prolonged period of drought, the team is also evaluating water use internally at the City to achieve necessary savings.
- Reducing irrigation in city parks - Evaluating monthly water use, performing site visits, and reviewing irrigation schedules. To date, most city parks have reduced water use by 20 percent or more, when compared to 2020 water use.
- Identifying water waste: During the 2021 and 2022 irrigation season, staff performed water waste patrols in the early morning hours to look for water waste, like leaks, breaks, or over spray from irrigation systems. These patrols, combined with staff review billing data for continuous use resulted in over 700 water waste reports.
- Investigating water system leaks: Since 2019, the city has invested over 22,000 hours and $2.55 million in finding and fixing leaks in our public water. As a result, the City of Santa Rosa has some of the lowest water loss rates statewide when compared to other water utilities.
- Restricting water use: Due to the drought emergency, Santa Rosa has eliminated or reduced power washing, per the current drought restrictions, except where health and human safety require washing.
- Reducing system flushing and testing: The city has implemented processes to reduce the need to flush fire hydrants and water mains and still meet and or exceed all water quality standards.
- Increasing participation on WaterSmart programs: Over the past 30 years, the city has funded the replacement of approximately 56,000 inefficient toilets. In the past 15 years the city has funded rebates for the conversion of over 3.8 million square feet of high-water use turf grass to low water use landscaping. The estimated sustained reduction in water use due to these programs is about 7,100 acre-feet per year or the equivalent of 2.3 billion gallons of water not used by the community each year.
- Evaluating water supply resiliency: The city has launched a project to identify options for increasing our water supply resiliency and reliability. This effort includes studying all potential water sources for cost-effectively and sustainably expanding city owned water supplies. Over the next 18 months, the city will study the feasibility of a range of potential water sources and develop an adaptive plan for increasing our locally owned and operated supplies. During this effort, the city will hold three community meetings to provide updates and seek community input on the study and plan for increasing local water supplies.