City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

January 18, 2012
Water scofflaws abound in Sacramento's Elmhurst area

It appears many residents of Elmhurst haven't bothered to look at the calendar - or a thermometer.

Many weekday mornings over the past few weeks, several residents of picturesque T Street have turned on their sprinklers, presumably to combat what has been a severely dry winter. Watering lawns during the week is illegal this time of year - not to mention unnecessary, city utilities officials told me.

Then again, residents aren't the only scofflaws on T Street. The city set its sprinklers to water the iconic parkway that runs down the middle of the street, reports my Bee colleague, water expert Matt Weiser.

Weiser brought that situation to the city's attention and the sprinklers were cut off Tuesday, reports utilities spokeswoman Jessica Hess.

The situation on T Street - where I have counted at least a half-dozen sprinklers in operation on many weekday mornings this winter - got particularly nasty earlier this week. The intrepid Weiser photographed sidewalks and benches covered in ice - thanks to those watering their lawns and sub-freezing temperatures.



Hess says lawns can only be watered on weekends and "only as necessary." But in many cases, even when lawns are turning brown, watering isn't necessary, Hess says.

"Several turfs turn brown because of hibernation, so watering isn't going to help," she told me.

Hess says the city has received a few anonymous tips of watering scofflaws, but that "people forget the rules change in the water months, so they forget to call in tips." And while the city responds to complaints of violators, City Hall doesn't have "water cops" patrolling the streets.

Those who do see lawns being watered illegally can call 311, Hess says.

In the meantime, you might want to avoid walking down T Street on cold mornings.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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