As California moves deeper into its fourth year of sustained drought and state water regulators turn the screws with more restrictive water use regulations, the City of Corcoran may also be moving to tighten local outdoor water usage.
City staff currently is reviewing the local water ordinance, and will be bringing it back to the city council April 6 for potential action. At that time, the council may choose to implement phase II of its current program, moving from voluntary to mandatory watering restrictions.
If it does not, local residents most likely will need to abide by new regulations just passed by the state’s Water Resources Control Board. Last Tuesday, March 17, the board approved the following restrictions:
–Landscape irrigation is prohibited during and 48 hours following a measurable precipitation;
–Restaurants will no longer provide water to customers unless requested; and
–Hotels and motels must offer their guests the option of having towels and linens cleaned daily. Notice of the option must be prominently displayed.
The additional cuts follow those made last year, when Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive action, implemented in July, called for restrictions to limiting landscape watering to certain days of the week and banning Californians from washing their cars without using a shut off nozzle on their hose. Those regs also disallowed using water to clean sidewalks.
The Governor hoped the restrictions would lead to a 20 percent conservation of water over the previous year. However, after being implemented, the water resources board’s mandatory reporting from cities showed just a 10 percent overall water savings last year over the previous year.
Corcoran did attaint the 20 percent reduction, beating out every other Kings County city. Hanford and Lemoore have reported just a 10 percent water savings during the past year. While it did not reach that figure every month—the lowest figure was a 12 percent reduction noted in early November—the city did hit the mark three times since September of 2014, also recording a 19 percent reduction on its March report this year.
Public Works Director Steve Kroeker used several different strategies to help the city post those numbers. The public works department marginally lowered its water pressure last summer and the department embarked on an aggressive education program aimed at getting local residents to conserve.
“We also found out residents were voluntarily complying with cut backs on water use,” noted Kroeker. “We never had to implement mandatory rules, because we had great voluntary response.”
While Hanford and Lemoore already have in place restrictions on outdoor watering limited to two days per week, Corcoran did not impose that rule. Instead, the city’s ordinance limits the hours during which watering can take place. This year, however, with the new rules, the city may be forced to adopt that rule.
“I think if we can show we have a plan that is working, we may not fall under that regulation, but we will wait and see,” noted Kroeker.
The overall conservation numbers would appear to be in Corcoran’s favor.