FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 13, 2014 –
By Steve Marschke
As California’s drought continues, the state has tightened up its rules required the City of West Sacramento to follow.
On Wednesday (Aug. 6), West Sacramento declared a “water shortage emergency, stage two.” Local residents and business owners are still being asked to cut their water use by 20 percent from last year, and a number of “voluntary” conservation measures are now becoming “mandatory.”
But staff and several city council members said at last week’s council meeting that they hope they’re not creating a culture of informing on neighbors, and a climate of punishment. They’d rather see neighbors helping each other fix faulty sprinkler systems than informing on each other.
“We will only issue penalties after the third or subsequent violation,” said Paulina Benner, the city’s environmental services manager, at the meeting. “The first two notices will simply be notices informing people of a violation.”
(Some information for this article was taken from video of that meeting.)
The city will do “outreach” informing people of the new rules – using the city “iLights” newsletter,” a printed newsletter, information in residents’ utility bills, social media and press releases,” said Benner.
She said the city government itself is trying to “lead by example.”
“We’re implementing some additional conservation measures such as drastic cutbacks in landscape irrigation and closure of our ‘splash park’ (at the city recreation center pool in Southport), and we’re reducing our street sweeping frequency,” said Benner.
She said those measures are saving over five million gallons per month, or enough to serve about 670 residents.
At Wednesday’s meeting, city officials noted that they have posted signs on street medians and other public-owned property where green grass is being allowed to go brown, explaining that the City of West Sacramento is deliberately reducing its watering.
Councilman Mark Johannessen acknowledged this, but added, “I know staff is making sure we at least keep the trees alive.”
Johannessen also suggested using water bills to give residents more information about their water use and about how to conserve it:
“We don’t have water meters throughout the city and there’s really no way to tell who’s using what unless you’ve got a water meter in,” said Johannessen. But he suggested letting metered homes know what they’re using and what they’re being asked to save, and telling them “here’s how you do it – you put a brick in your toilet, and those things.”
The city now has a tip line for messages about water wasters. It’s at (916) 617-4545.
Councilwoman Beverly Sandeen said she hoped the community would come together to save water:
“My hope is that when this gets announced tomorrow and subsequent days, people come together,” said Sandeen. Instead of having the first thing they do be to go to their phones to report their neighbors, they’ll actually knock on the (neighbor’s) door and say ‘Do you need help? I know how to change the timer (on your sprinkler system).’”
The new rules are:
– Using potable (drinkable) water for washing sidewalks and driveways is prohibited.
– Using potable water for washing streets and parking lots is prohibited.
– Using potable water to wash down buildings or to cool building roofs is prohibited.
– Watering of lawns or landscaping between noon and 6:00 p.m. is prohibited.
– Outdoor watering limited to an odd/even schedule. Customers with street addresses that end in an odd number may only irrigate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Customers with street addresses that end in an even number may only irrigate on Wednesday, Fridays, and Sundays. No irrigation is permitted on Mondays.
– Washing a motor vehicle using a hose without a shut-off nozzle is prohibited.
– Using drinkable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature is prohibited unless the water is part of a recirculating system.
– Using drinking water to water outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures is prohibited.
The suggestions become “law” on September 5, reports the city clerk.
Tip line: (916) 617-4545 (leave a message with information about water being wasted)
For more information, go to cityofwestsacramento.org/water.
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