Water Rules & Tips

General Water Conservation Tips

  • Some savings tips can be used inside and outside. Others are just good information to know. Below are some general tips to help you save.
  • Pick up the phone and call Customer Service at (909)370-5555, to report significant water losses from leaks in the street, open or leaking fire hydrants, and similar issues.
  • Make sure you know where your private shut-off valve is. This could help save gallons of water, as well as may prevent damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
  • Check your water meter and bill in order to track your water usage.
  • When shopping for a new appliance, consider those that are highly efficient as well as energy-star qualified. This will help save water as well as energy.
  • Insulate hot water pipes so that you don’t have to run the faucet as long to get hot water.
  • Listen and look for leaky pipes and faucets inside and outside your home. Early leak detection can help prevent wasted water, as well as potentially expensive repairs from being left untreated. If you are unable to fix a leaking faucet yourself, shut off water to the faucet until it can be repaired or replaced.
  • When cleaning out your fish tank, use the water that you’ve drained on your plants (inside and outside). This water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with free fertilizer.

Lawn & Garden

  • Water slowly and avoid windy hours
  • Use mulch to save moisture
  • Adjust irrigation systems to reduce duration and frequency
  • Implement a soil system measurement monitor
  • Plant drought-tolerant shrubs that require less watering


While a majority of your water is used outside your home, the easiest ways to save are indoors. Read below for helpful water conservation tips for inside your home.  

  • By reducing the amount of time spent in the shower, even by just a few minutes, you can save hundreds of gallons every month. You can also install low-flow showerheads that use less water while still providing the same amount of water pressure.
  • When running a bath, plug the drain before you turn the faucet on. The cold water in the tub will warm up quickly once hot water is added.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Doing so not only wastes water but can also damage the plumbing. This can lead to leaks and other problems that may be expensive to repair.
  • Check toilets for leaks by using dye tabs or food coloring. In order to do this, remove the tank lid, and put the dye tabs or 10 drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 15 minutes, and if any of the dye has made its way into the toilet bowl, your toilet has a leak. Consider replacing it with a low-flow model that uses 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) or an ultra-low-flow model that uses 1.28 GPF. Older models, from the 1990s and prior, use 3.5 to 7 GPF.
  • Be sure to turn your faucets off all the way when you’re done using them. This helps prevent water waste from dripping faucets. Another good idea is to install aerators on all of your faucets, which reduce the amount of water used while still providing plenty of pressure for all of your needs.
  • When brushing your teeth or washing your face, be sure to turn the water off until you need it. When shaving, fill the sink partway to rinse your razor in, rather than using running water. To save even more water, consider doing all of these things while you’re in the shower.
  • Always try to do the fullest load possible in your dishwasher. It uses the same amount of water whether it is full or nearly empty. High efficient models sometimes have load size settings, to help conserve even more water.
  • When washing dishes by hand, fill a sink part way and add just enough soap to get the dishes clean. Less soap means the dishes can be rinsed more quickly. To rinse dishes, fill the other sink partway, rather than using running water.
  • Plan ahead to defrost food. Rather than use running, water allows food to thaw in the refrigerator or by using the microwave. If you want to use water, fill a pan part way and place the food in it. Afterward, you can use the water for your house plants. The same can be done to rinse vegetables.
  • When running the faucet to get hot water, place a pitcher under the faucet to collect the cold water. This can be put in the refrigerator for drinking or can be used around the house for things such as watering plants, filling a pet’s water bowl, ice cube trays, etc.
  • If you accidentally drop an ice cube, don’t throw it in the sink. Instead, put it in a house plant, or your pet’s water bowl.
  • Always try to do the fullest load of laundry possible. If you are unable to, be sure to select the appropriate load size. Consider replacing your washing machine with a more efficient model that senses the load size, or has multiple efficiency settings.


Outdoor Water Conservation Tips

  • The majority of your water use is outside your home. Below are some easy tips to help you conserve as much as possible.  
  • Water between 6 to 8 am when it is cooler outside and there is less evaporation. Avoid watering on rainy or windy days.
  • Be sure to adjust sprinkler timers to the season. More watering is needed in the hot, arid months, and less is needed during the cold, wet months. Always check your plants to see if they need more or less water, because both overwatering and under watering can cause landscaping to die.
  • Regularly check your sprinklers and sprinkler valves to ensure they are in proper working order. This includes checking for damaged sprinkler heads, which should be replaced with high-efficiency models. It also includes checking that the yard isn’t being overwatered, causing runoff.
  • Landscape smarter! Plant during the spring or fall when temperatures are lower, meaning plants will need less water. Avoid planting in areas that are difficult to water, such as steep inclines. Group plants with similar watering need together. Choose drought-tolerant, California native species to get the most out of your yard. Be sure to weed regularly, because weeds need water, too.
  • Installing a drip system will help get water directly to shrubs and trees, while also allowing you to adjust how much water goes to each. For maximum effect, be sure to add a layer of mulch or gravel around plants to help reduce evaporation (this can also help hide the drip system hoses).
  • Let your lawn grow longer during the dryer months. This will keep your soil moister and require less watering. This also results in deeper rooting and shade for the root zone, which will mean less water needed over time.
  • Using porous materials for walkways and patios will help keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
  • When using the hose, attach a nozzle that stops the water when you’re not using it. Also, save water by using a broom to clean your driveway or sidewalk, rather than the hose.
  • If you wish to install ornamental water features and fountains, be sure to choose one that recycles its water. Avoid ones that spray water into the air, as they will lose more water to evaporation.
  • Be sure to cover your pool when not in use. This will help reduce evaporation, thus reducing the need to top the pool off when you want to use it. Also, periodically checking that your pool pump is operating correctly will help you detect problems, like leaks, early on.
  • Rainwater from rooftops and eves can be captured in a container for use in your garden.



On January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a proclamation of a state of emergency stating that 2014 was projected to be the driest year on record with snowpack at only 20 percent of the normal average as of the date of the proclamation. On April 1, 2015, with only 5 percent of the historic average snowpack, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-29-15 (PDF) that, in part, directs the State Water Resource Control Board to impose restrictions on water suppliers to achieve a statewide 25 percent reduction in potable urban usage. To achieve this statewide 25 percent reduction, the City of Colton was tasked with reducing its usage by 11 percent cumulatively versus usage in 2013.

Stage III - "Water Warning" Mandatory Watering Restrictions

To comply with State regulations, on June 16, 2015, the City Council authorized the implementation of Stage III of the City's water conservation plan PDF). When implemented, the following restrictions shall apply to the use of water supplied by the City in addition to the recommendations of Stage I and Stage II: Residential Customer Restrictions (Bilingual) (PDF)

  • Customers with addresses ending in an EVEN number can water on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays only, before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m., for no more than 10 minutes per station per occurrence
  • Customers with addresses ending in an ODD number can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays only, before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m., for no more than 10 minutes per station per occurrence
  • Irrigation may not occur during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall
  • Don't allow for overspray, or run off greater than 5 minutes
  • Shut Off Nozzles are required when using a hose
  • Sashing down of hardscapes (driveways, sidewalks, etc.) is not permitted
  • Fix all leaks within a timely manner
  • If you have a fountain or water feature the water must be re-circulated
  • Swimming pools, ornamental pools, fountains, and artificial lakes shall not be filled or refilled after being drained unless prior approval is obtained from the City (regular filling to maintain water levels is allowed)
  • Washing of automobiles, boats, trailers, aircraft and other types of mobile equipment is prohibited, except at a commercial car wash utilizing recycling systems 

Non-residential customer (Commercial, Industrial, & Institutional) Restrictions

  • Restaurants shall not serve water to customers except upon specific customer request
  • Washing down of hardscapes is not permitted unless necessary for public health
    On-site washing of vehicles is not allowed unless necessary for public health, or if a water recycling system is used
  • Fix all leaks within a timely manner
  • If you have a fountain or water feature the water must be re-circulated
  • Swimming pools, ornamental pools, fountains, and artificial lakes shall not be filled or refilled after being drained unless prior approval is obtained from the City
  • Schools may only water on odd-numbered days of the month, before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m., for no more than 15 minutes per station per occurrence.
  • Publicly-owned properties may only water on even-numbered days of the month, before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m, for no more than 15 minutes per station per occurrence
  • Irrigation may not occur during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall
  • Don't allow for overspray or runoff greater than 5 minutes
  • All other customer types, please see above for irrigation restrictions - Reduce potable water use by 25% of the prior year's consumption
  • Operators of hotels and motels must provide guests the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily, and shall prominently display notice of this option
  • Potable water use for compaction, dust control, and other types of construction are allowed by permit only


First Violation: Notice of Non-Compliance - A written warning accompanied by a copy of regulations
Second Violation: Warning - A second written warning with notification of future penalties
Third Violation - $100 surcharge
Fourth Violation - $200 surcharge
Fifth Violation - $500 surcharge

It is not the city's intent to penalize citizens for overuse of water, but rather, to educate them on efficient irrigation and suitable landscape for Colton's arid climate. Check out the right rebate program (PDF) for you to help you save water and help us comply with standards. We appreciate your understanding in our efforts to be a more efficient community and reduce water waste.

To apply for an exemption permit to any of our restrictions, please submit the permit form (PDF), with supporting documentation, to the Conservation Section at the Public Works Yard, 160 S 10th Street

Staff are on duty keeping an eye out for water waste, but they can use your help. To report water waste in your community, send us an email the Wastewater Department or call 909-370-6145.