Valley water rules still in effect

The easing of the drought has not changed the rules that limit how much city residents can water their yards.

All of Stanislaus County's cities have rules against watering during the hottest times of day. They also ban wasteful practices, such as letting lawn irrigation run off into gutters.

With the exception of Newman, the cities allow watering only on certain days of the week, depending on whether an address is odd or even.

"All those rules are always in place, even in a good year," said Jessica Smart, spokeswoman for the city of Modesto.

Most cities rely entirely on groundwater, so conservation in ample years helps build up the supply for dry years. Modesto also gets Tuolumne River water.

Conservation will be increasingly useful as the cities phase in water metering under a state law that will do away with flat fees for unlimited use.

Residents should check the forecast before watering. They might think that late May is when the sprinklers should be going strong, but this week has turned out to be rainy.