Bakersfield avoids water restrictions

City officials say enough groundwater protects customers this year.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Water restrictions have taken effect in Wasco, but Bakersfield city officials say they don't plan on having any restrictions this year despite being a larger city that uses more water than Wasco.

Starting in March, Wasco is restricting sprinkler use, car washing, filling swimming pools, and use of decorative fountains that don't recycle water.

Bakersfield, however, has more water options.

"We have state water which comes from Kern County Water Agency. We purchase water from them," said District Manager of California Water Service Rudy Valles. "We also have Kern River water which we purchase from the city. And, we also have our well water, which is our groundwater."

The groundwater is keeping Bakersfield afloat during the state drought. City water officials said there is enough reserved for the rest of the year.

"This year we're going to be OK," said Valles. "We have enough water. We don't need to ration right now."

Bakersfield city officials were proactive in water conservation back in 2008.

"What we do is, we bank water through the wet years and that goes down into the groundwater," said Valles.

While customers are not being forced to conserve, it's highly recommended. CalWater.org offers rebates to people who switch to water efficient home appliances. The general manager at Kern Turf Supply said the new sprinkler heads are cheap and easy to install.

"A standard pop-up, you'll probably spend $1.50 or $1.75," said manager Anthony Blanco. "You can pull the case right out of the ground and put the new insert, it'll give you the check valve fixture and you'll be immediately saving water that's draining."

Bakersfield and Kern County government properties have been using the new sprinkler heads for years. Bakersfield city parks are also upgrading this year to a computerized sprinkler system.

The parks will use Maxicom, a computer system that uses temperature, soil moisture, and climate to precisely calculate how much water to use each day, and it can detect leaks.

City Council members and the water districts will host a water forum March 13th to plan both short-term and long-term solutions for future droughts.

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