Sacramento's city council voted on a proposal last night to make some drought-time watering restrictions permanent. The ordinance reduces lawn watering days from three days per week to two.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg voted for the proposal.
"If we think we're going to be able to rely on the same water stability over the next years and decades as this fundamental climate shift is happening, we're wrong. So better that we change the culture now in a modest way," Steinberg said.
Councilman Jeff Harris said the permanent restrictions will create a culture of sustainability.
"This is really about an education campaign to ensure long-term resiliency in periods of drought. This isn't about punishing people for watering their lawns or restricting the tools that you need to keep your landscape healthy and verdant," Harris said.
But Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said the ordinance doesn't account for the needs of newer parts of the city, like Natomas.
She said a better way to regulate water usage would be to monitor individual water consumption.
"There are no trees the size of River Park, or Curtis Park, or Tahoe Park, or Land Park. It's not shady yet. And it's hard to keep the grass alive. Even with two days, and even with experts," Ashby said.
Hand watering and drip irrigation would be exempt from the two-day limit. Torin Dunnavant with the Sacramento Tree Foundation says the city needs to make sure the public fully understands the ordinance and exemptions.
"If it lacks proper messaging or outreach, we will see similar outcomes that occurred when we were mired in our five year drought, where people stopped their outdoor watering completely, which severely impacted our trees, native plants and water-wise landscapes," Donovan said.
Critics say monitoring an individual's overall water usage would be a better approach than limiting watering days.