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City of Roseville can help residents reduce water use

Water Wise House Call free, available on weekdays
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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To schedule a Water Wise House Call, contact the city of Roseville at (916) 774-5761 or visit www.roseville.ca.us.
 

If you haven’t already reduced your water usage, there’s no time to wait, especially considering the city of Roseville is close to declaring a drought stage and implementing mandatory restrictions.

In the meantime, the city can provide some assistance with reducing your water usage through its free Water Wise House Call. A water-use specialist will go to your house on a weekday to analyze indoor and outdoor water use.

That includes pressure testing; checking toilets and other plumbing fixtures for leaks; developing proper water irrigation schedules based on the time of year; assessing sprinklers and water runoff; and analyzing drainage systems and providing recommendations for repair or replacement.

The city conducts about 1,300 house calls annually, said Water Efficiency Administrator Lisa Brown. Roseville’s three employees who handle house calls currently do about 12 a day because of increased interest in saving water among residents.

“They’re concerned,” Brown said. “They don’t all have problems. They just want to verify they’re doing the best they can.”

On Feb. 5, the Roseville City Council will vote on approving the hire of a fourth worker to accommodate the demand, which is anticipated to grow as California continues to deal with a drought.

Just this week, funding for the city’s Cash for Grass program dried up because so many residents want to turn their water-reliant lawn into drought-tolerant landscaping. Funding for the program usually isn’t exhausted until late spring.

Residents now have a way to better monitor their own usage by enrolling in the Water Insight Program, which has been in a pilot stage. The program is open to 18,000 people, which is about half of Roseville’s residential water users. Financial constraints prevent the program from being open to all users and enrollment is first come, first served.

The program provides information on how a resident’s water usage compares to his or her neighbors and information on the characteristics of the person’s water use.

The city also has systems in place to flag accounts when anomalous water use occurs. Staff will then call these residences to conduct a house call.

“We can tell a lot just by looking at someone’s numbers,” said Water Efficiency Specialist John Shannon.

During a house call, Shannon usually examines the interior first, checking toilet fixtures, shower heads, sinks and aerators. The age of the house and any upgrades affect flow rates. For instance, a toilet that’s a 2013 model uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush, but a 1992 toilet will use 3.5 gallons. Some older models use 5 to 7 gallons.

The city offers a rebate program for toilets and washing machines.

Outside, Shannon will look for leaks and breaks. He will turn on the irrigation to check for problems. He said a lot of people don’t understand how to program their irrigation systems, and the city worker will ask permission to reprogram the system to fit the season and needs of the landscape. A smart meter automatically adjusts to outside conditions.

“The best thing is if it rains and you’re not home, it will shut (the sprinklers) off,” Shannon said.

The city will soon be telling residents that all outside irrigation needs to be shut off.

“That doesn’t make people happy, and it doesn’t make us happy either to call for something that drastic,” Brown said.