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City issues warnings to over 800 water wasters
turlock water wasters pic
Lawns across Turlock are starting to brown, as the majority of city residents cut back drastically on landscaping water use. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Of the 877 City of Turlock rate payers sent warning notices regarding their water usage, only seven have been fined.

With less than one percent of the notified customers being penalized for watering at the wrong time, Director of Municipal Services Michael Cooke attributes the small ratio to the general public's awareness of the importance of water conservation during the ongoing drought.

"Overall, I think once people are made aware of what they need to correct, they will correct it," said Cooke.

Lawns all over town are becoming significantly browner as the City of Turlock is working towards its goal of 35 percent water conservation, an amount mandated by the State Water Resources Control Board earlier this year. Turlock was amongst the more than 100 towns charged with conserving the highest percentage and in April the City launched its strictest water regulations to date.

Mandatory conservation steps were passed down to rate payers, who were instructed to limit  outdoor landscape watering to two days a week — residents that live in odd numbered houses can now only water on Wednesdays and Sundays while those in even numbered days can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Watering is also now prohibited between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends watering is only allowed between midnight and noon.

Two part-time City of Turlock staff members have been monitoring water users after hours and the City's electronic well monitoring and water meter data has also revealed acute trends. According to Cooke, data shows that residents are watering late at night on the incorrect days though that doesn't necessarily mean it is deliberate.

"When everyone starts cutting back you start to see when the peak times are and it’s almost like we have a new peak time and we're responding to that,” said Cooke. “In the old days we might not have seen that trend stand out though.”

Education and enforcement are the two pillars of the City's conservation measures and with lawns showing more strain around town during the summer months, it will become obvious who is and is not watering. For local residents to have an idea where they stand in terms of permitted watering, the City of Turlock has installed a link on their homepage that allows rate payers to view the status of their present water usage instead of waiting for their monthly bill.

"That will give you a daily read of water meters you can look at and will compare your usage to similar properties based on size of house and size of lot," explained Cook.

Users will need to have their water bill in front of them in order to create an online account to view their current water consumption and target consumption rate and report incidents of water wasting at