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Lathrop moves to restrict outdoor watering to 2 days
Sprinkler Irrigation - Sprinkler head

The message from the Governor’s office was clear – either municipalities and cities need to cut their water usage to curtail the impact of California’s historic drought, or he’s going to mandate that they do so.

And last week the Lathrop City Council did its part – adopting an ordinance that declared a drought emergency and implemented Level 2 watering restrictions from within the City of Lathrop’s water shortage contingency plan.

That means that homeowners can now only water outdoor landscaping two days a week with odd numbers being allowed to irrigate outdoors on Tuesdays and Saturdays and even numbered addresses on Wednesday and Sunday.

All of the Level 1 restrictions that aren’t superseded by the new tier – like watering only after 7 p.m. in the evening and 10 a.m. in the morning, serving drinking water only upon request at restaurants, and having hotels give guests the option of not having their linens laundered daily – will remain in place.

Earlier this year California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that recommended that the State Water Resources Control Board consider emergency regulations that will allocate for a water shortage of 20 percent off of what is used in a typical year – prompting the regulatory agency to create draft regulations that spell out a date of implementation by June 10 of this year.

In 2020, the city approved both its Urban Water Management Plan and its Water Shortage Contingency Plan with guidelines in place for shortage amounts up to and exceeding 50 percent of what is typically used – giving local municipalities the chance to prepare for the likelihood that another megadrought will hit California.

According to the California Department of Water Resources, both of the major reservoirs in the Northern Sierra Nevada that feed the San Joaquin River – Don Pedro and New Melones – are well below their historical averages for this time of the year. New Melones, with capacity for 2.4 million-acre feet of water making it California’s fourth-largest reservoir, is only 37 percent full – down from the historical average of 59 percent. Don Pedro, the sixth-largest lake in California, is only at 66 percent capacity – down from a historical average of 83 percent.

Both Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, the largest reservoirs in the state, are also below their historical average for this time of the year.

Those in Lathrop found to be in violation of the WSCP – for watering on off-days, allowing runoff to flow into the street, or using water for non-approved reasons – will be issued a warning the first time followed by a $50 fine. A third offense will carry a $75 fine, while the fourth will cost the homeowner $100 and the cost of installing a flow restrictor that will remain in place for the duration of the drought or water emergency.

For more information about the policy visit the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.