Water conservation rules

After the record-breaking rain and snow of the past season, California’s drought has officially ended, and the most stringent water conservation rules have been lifted by the state Water Resources Control Board.

The ending of these rules applies to Lakewood residents.

For example, Lakewood residents can now water their yards without the specific limit of the number of minutes per week that has existed for the past several years. 

General watering rules

However, as a good practice against the wasting of water, the following rules remain in effect statewide and in Lakewood through at least the end of December 2023:

  • Watering is prohibited during or within 48 hours of rainfall.
  • No hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes.
  • No sprinkler runoff to sidewalks, gutters and other landscape.
  • No washing of cars and equipment, except from a bucket or hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle. 

Additional rules for commercial, industrial and institutional property watering

In addition, in commercial and industrial settings, the statewide restriction remains against the watering of "non-functional" turf (solely ornamental and not used for recreation or gatherings).

This rule does not apply to residential water users.

NOTE: Turf that uses recycled water is exempt from the restrictions.

Lakewood uses recycled water for irrigation

“Recycled water” is wastewater or stormwater that has been treated to a level that is safe to use for irrigation.

Many of Lakewood’s parkways and street medians are irrigated with recycled water, and you will continue to see them irrigated in the future.

Lakewood also operates a water truck that uses recycled water.

Be mindful of your water use to help conserve

While Lakewood has adequate water supplies currently, reducing our local use will extend the life of our water supply.

A lot of water goes down the drain because of perceptions that water is plentiful and cheap--certainly not the case.

If a violation of the water rules is spotted, Lakewood will start with a friendly reminder about the rules. Then:

  • For a first formal violation, there will be a written warning from the city with no penalty.
  • A second violation will bring a citation of $100
  • Further citations will bring fines up to $500 and the potential for flow restrictors being installed at the residence.

Your smart meter can help

Now is a great time to check out the free information available to you from your "smart water meter" Lakewood installed four years ago. Review the reports to help reduce your water use, spot any leaks and save money. To get started, go to www.lakewoodcity.org/SmartWater.

Water-saving tips:

Easy ways to save hundreds of gallons around the house

Did you know that more than 10 percent of all water used in the home is used in washing? A clothes washer, at full cycle and highest water level, uses 30 to 50 gallons of water. The dishwasher requires up to 25 gallons.

Clothes or dishwasher: To save water, run only full loads, and set the water level for the size of load you are using. 

Result: Savings of 300 to 800 gallons per month.

Shower: Every minute of your shower uses 2.5 gallons of water. A low-flow showerhead only costs $10.00 but will save 50 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Most models have a shut off valve that will save even more water by stopping the water while you lather up. 

Result: Savings up to 700 gallons per month.

Driveways and sidewalks: Use a broom instead of a hose. Adjust sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden - and only there.

Result: Savings of 600 gallons a month.


How to water your trees during a drought

Your trees, including the tree in your parkway, are likely stressed from the drought and need to be watered regularly. 

Should I fertilize my tree during a drought? Not usually. Salts in fertilizer may burn roots when there is not sufficient water. Fertilizers may also stimulate top growth resulting in too much leaf area on the plant for the root system to maintain during periods of limited soil moisture. 

What is the best way to water my tree?

First, make sure the top soil layer doesn’t repel water. If the water beads and runs off, then break the surface soil up and apply a simple solution of soapy water (one tablespoon dish soap added to one gallon of water in a bucket) to the surface to get the soil wet again and ready to absorb water.

Saturate the soil within the “dripline” (the outer edges of the tree’s branches) to disperse water down toward the key roots that deliver water to the tree. A soaker hose laid at the dripline of the tree is an excellent way to apply water. Using a timer device is recommended. 

Deep watering to a depth of 12” below the soil surface is recommended. A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Watering for short periods of time only encourages shallow rooting which can lead to more drought damage.

How often should I water my tree?

Small trees (1”-7” in diameter) – 3 times per month. Newly planted and smaller trees can get adequate water within the existing watering restrictions by hand watering with a hose and an automatic shut-off nozzle.

Medium trees (8”-15” in diameter) – 3 times per month, in several areas around the tree.

Large trees (16”+ in diameter) – Once every 3 weeks in several areas around the tree. 

Repair leaks and save water

Lakewood watering schedule and water saving tips brochure

If a faucet drips at a rate of just one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons of water per year.

To save water, fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints. 

Result: Savings of 20 gallons per day for every leak stopped.

As an extra saving step, retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors to slow the flow of water. 

City of Lakewood water users can use the WaterSmart site to check their water use online. 

Saving water on your landscaping

Typically, 70 percent of the water consumed by households is used outdoors. Studies show that the average homeowner uses more than four times the actual amount of water needed to keep a lawn healthy and green.

Before you water, step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn't need water. And reset sprinkler timers to water every third day and for fewer minutes. Result: Savings from 750 to 1,500 gallons per month.

Quick tips when planning or upgrading your landscaping:

Install a new "smart" sprinkler controller that applies just the right amount of water for your landscape based on your plants and garden, and local weather conditions.

Install California Friendly/water wise plants. Drought tolerant plants use less water and beautify a home in California Friendly style. There are a surprisingly large number of good-looking California Friendly/water wise plants from which to choose.

Think about how much lawn you need. Grass requires large amounts of water and constant care. A yard or garden full of California Friendly water wise plants may suit your tastes and your lifestyle just fine.

Group plants with similar water use. This allows you to install sprinklers that match watering requirements.

Use mulch and weed barriers. They retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Install three to four inches of mulch in planting beds. 

Learn more about water-wise landscaping.