Water Conservation Appeal

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Regulations, Enforcement & Appeals

Water Conservation Regulations and Enforcement
In addition to the promotion of water conservation efforts and education, the Water Conservation Program is responsible for the enforcement of water conservation regulations within the City of Fresno Water Division’s service area.

Information about water conservation regulations, enforcement, and appeals of water conservation incidents can be found below.

Excessive Water Use Definition

On August 29, 2016, the Governor of the State of California signed into law SB 814, which requires the City to adopt a definition of “excessive water use” regarding water usage and establish a method to identify and discourage excessive water use.

With the capabilities of the Smart Meters that have been installed at every residence in the City of Fresno, the City is able to monitor a property’s water usage on an hourly basis.  Customers are also able to monitor their own property’s water usage through the EyeOnWater portal.  As such, the City’s definition of “excessive water use” utilizes the Smart Meter technology and quantifies a specific hourly usage threshold beyond which is considered to be excessive use of water.

City of Fresno Municipal Code: Sec. 6-501 (vv):
Excessive Water Use” means, for customers in single-family residences or multi-unit housing in which each unit is individually metered or sub-metered, using potable water in excess of the maximum gallons per hour, depending on the City’s current Water Shortage Contingency Plan stage, during days or hours when outdoor irrigation is prohibited, more than one day during the monthly billing period, as recorded by the City.  The maximum gallons per hour are:  Stage 1 – 400 gallons per hour recommended.  Stage 2 – 400 gallons per hour.  Stage 3 – 350 gallons per hour.  Stage 4 – 300 gallons per hour.

**The City is currently in Stage 2 of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which means that the excessive water use threshold is set at 400 gallons per hour.**

Water Conservation Restrictions

In addition to “Excessive Water Use,” other water usage restrictions are in place to limit water waste and further the City’s water conservation efforts, in accordance with State of California regulations.

City of Fresno Municipal Code: Sec. 6-520(a):
In the use of potable water supplied by the City, no customer shall do or permit any of the following:

  1. Use potable water to irrigate or water outdoor landscaping in a manner that causes runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures,
  2. Keep, maintain, operate, or use any water connection, hose, faucet, hydrant, pipe, outlet, or plumbing fixture which is not tight and free from leakage,
  3. Willfully or negligently waste water,
  4. Flood any part of the premises of another,
  5. Sprinkle the premises of another so as to prevent the normal use thereof or unreasonably wet objects thereon which should not be subjected to a spray of water except as naturally caused by the elements or by the action of the owner of the object,
  6. Sprinkle or irrigate any yard, ground, premise, or vegetation except as set forth in the City’s Outdoor Water Use Schedule,
  7. Sprinkle or irrigate any yard, ground, premise, or vegetation unless the watering device used is controlled by an automatic shut-off device or a person is in immediate attendance of the hose or watering device,
  8. Wash any privately owned motor vehicle, trailer, or boat except from a bucket or in a commercial car wash, provided a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle may be used for a quick rinse without causing water to flow onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures,
  9. Wash or rinse with a hose or watering device any sidewalk, driveway, parking area, tennis court, patio, or any other exterior paved area, except for public health and safety reasons at public gathering places,
  10. Use potable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system,
  11. Irrigate ornamental turf on public street medians with potable water.  This prohibition does not include trees and shrubs on public medians, which may be irrigated.
  12. Irrigate outdoor landscapes with potable water during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall.
  13. Serve drinking water other than upon request in eating or drinking establishments,
  14. Irrigate 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.
  15. Automatically change towels and linens in hotels and motels daily.
  16. Drain swimming pools more than once every three years, except as necessary to complete structural repairs or to comply with public health standards.
  17. Fill newly constructed or refurbished swimming pools without a pool fill permit from the City of Fresno Water Division.
  18. Refill (top off) established swimming pools except during times when outdoor water use is allowed at the property address pursuant to the Outdoor Water Use Schedule.

Water Conservation Enforcement

The City enforces “Excessive Water Use” and other water conservation restrictions through both automated enforcement (via meter read data) and through visual inspection.  All water conservation incidents are recorded on a customer’s account.  Fines are issued on a monthly basis for any month with two or more recorded incidents.

City of Fresno Municipal Code: Sec. 6-520(e):

  1. Each incident of Excessive Use as defined in Section 6-501, or use of water inconsistent with the provisions of this section [Section 6-501(a)], is an incident of water waste.
  2. If a customer has one or more incidents of water waste during a month, as observed by City staff or as recorded by the City’s water meter reading system, the customer shall be issued a Notice of Water Waste and, if applicable, be charged fines and penalties as set forth in the Master Fee Schedule.  Such fines shall be added to the customer’s monthly utility bill and shall be due and payable with that utility bill and subject to the FMC 6-106, Late Payment of Municipal Service Bills.
  3. Incident counts for water waste shall be monitored, recorded, documented and enforced on a monthly basis during the calendar year for individual customers, and the incident counts shall be reset January 1 of each year.
  4. If a customer performs or permits incidents of water waste more than six consecutive months, the water service to the customer may be terminated unless in the opinion of the Director such termination would result in an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of persons. If water service is terminated for successive incidents of water waste, the water service may only be restored upon execution of an agreement with the customer to adhere to the conditions of service described in this section.

Per direction from the City Council, no fines will be assessed for an incident of water waste recorded by the City’s water meter reading system (automated enforcement) prior to Council direction to implement such fines.  Direction will be sought by staff no later than May 1, 2020.  This does not impact the issuance of Notices of Incidents of Water Waste recorded by the City’s water meter reading system, or issuing notices and fines for incidents of water waste observed by City staff (visual enforcement).

Water Conservation Fines
City of Fresno Master Fee Schedule
Department of Public Utilities
Water Rates
(Effective June 1, 2019)

Conditions of Service Work
(related to Water Conservation, FMC 6-520(e)
First Month with IncidentNotice of Water Waste Issued
Second Month with Incident$25.00
Third Month with Incident$50.00
Fourth Month with Incident$100.00
Fifth through Twelfth Month with Incident$100.00

Appeal Process

If customers wish to appeal a water conservation incident that has been recorded on their account, the customer may complete and submit the Application for Appeal of Water Conservation Incident, or the customer must contact the Water Conservation Program via the 311 Center by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489) or dialing 3-1-1 within City limits.

Appeals must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the date of issuance of the utility bill on which the fine was included.  Once the application has been received, the Water Conservation Supervisor will investigate the incident and will provide a determination within 15 days of receipt of the customer’s appeal, or receiving any applicable evidence from the customer, whichever comes later.

Additional steps are available for customers to use, should they wish to contest the Water Conservation Supervisor’s decision, as outlined below.

Fresno Municipal Code: Sec. 6-520(e)(5):
If a customer objects to a fine imposed for an incident of water waste pursuant to this section, the following appeal process may be used.

Step 1.

  1. Within thirty days of issuance of the utility bill including the fine, the customer may contact the Water Conservation Program to appeal an incident of water waste resulting in a fine with the staff person who initiated the enforcement measure.  The staff person shall gather the facts about the incident.
  2. The customer may provide staff with evidence there was no incident of water waste, or of a bona fide reason for the incident of water waste, including evidence of a water leak, or another reasonable justification for the water use, within ten business days of the customer’s first communication with the Water Conservation Program regarding the alleged incident of water waste.
  3. Within ten business days of the initiation of an appeal, staff shall provide the customer with documentation demonstrating the incident of water waste, if applicable.
  4. The staff will provide the facts and evidence related to the appeal to the Water Conservation Program Supervisor, who will determine whether to rescind the enforcement measure.  The Water Conservation Program Supervisor will provide a written decision to the customer within fifteen business days of the customer’s appeal, or receiving any applicable evidence from the customer, whichever comes later.

Step 2. If the customer is not satisfied with the decision of the Water Conservation Supervisor, they may appeal to the Director or designee within ten business days of the date of the Water Conservation Program Supervisor’s decision. The Director or designee shall review the appeal and any evidence the customer previously submitted, and provide a written decision within thirty days of receiving the appeal.

Step 3.  If the customer is not satisfied with the decision of the Director of Public Utilities, the customer may appeal to the City’s Administrative Hearing Officer in the manner provided in Chapter 1, Article 4 of this code.  Such decision shall be final.