So. Lake watering restrictions to be lifted |

So. Lake watering restrictions to be lifted

by Gregroy Crofton, Appeal News Service

As cold nights bring the growing season to a halt, South Tahoe Public Utility District says it will eliminate its lawn-watering restrictions, soon but not just yet.

In effect since late June, the restrictions cut water usage in the district 15 to 18 percent by allowing residents to water lawns only three days a week.

“That has allowed us to meet our needs,” which include having enough water in holding tanks to fight wildfires, said Dennis Cocking, district spokesman. “Anything over 15 percent allowed us not to be in a crisis situation.”

At least a dozen people received tickets from the district for violating water restrictions. All were warned twice before they got the ticket.

“Mostly they were for watering on the wrong day or overwatering,” Cocking said.

Despite the recent cold mornings, demand for water has remained steady. The district says it will likely keep the restrictions in place until the wet season begins. In the meantime, the district plans to form a working group with residents to figure out a long-term strategy for water conservation.

It could include a year-round conservation program, rebate programs or a plan designed to minimize the amount of turf at South Shore.

Turf lawns consume a lot of water. Sprinkler systems that are often used to feed them need to be winterized, but usually that’s a simple process involving the shutting off of some valves. Irrigation lines at Tahoe typically don’t have to be blown out because the systems are designed with cold weather in mind.

“Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be doing a lot of that,” said T.J. Stewart of Clark Plumbing and Heating.

Restrictions are needed because of the large amount of new landscaping at South Shore and because water supplies have been limited by the gasoline additive MTBE, which was detected in the South Shore water supply five years ago and resulted in the shutdown of 14 district wells.