Still working to update the city’s water conservation ordinance, staff finds itself honing in on the issue of enforcement. And it appears the ordinance will undergo a complete overhaul before it is presented to the city council, perhaps as early as next week.
Until now, the city has relied on residents to voluntarily comply on the issue of conserving water. It appears those efforts have seen a positive response: compared to the same time in 2013, local residents saved an average of about 18 percent on water usage in 2014.
However, that’s not enough. Governor Jerry Brown, who implemented a 20 percent savings on residential water use in early 2014, has now upped the ante to 25 percent. And although Corcoran made the highest gains of any Kings County city in saving water last year, the average per capita use is still pegged at over 228 gallons per day.
The State Department of Water Resources is targeting cities that use over 165 gallons of water per person a day. Those cities—including Corcoran, Hanford and Lemoore—could be placed in a 35 percent savings category when the water resources board adopts new mandates in early May.
All this, in a fourth straight year of drought, provides the backdrop for the city’s reworking of its own ordinance.
“All our work is subject to council approval, but we are attempting to address state regulatory requirements and work within that framework,” said City Manager Kindon Meik.
Most likely gone will be any voluntary compliance; instead, the city will require residents to conserve water, especially in the height of the summer months, when about 50 percent of household water use is dedicated to outdoor landscaping. The city is looking at implementing a two-day per week water schedule, as called for by the state regulations. Enforcement of the ordinance will be tricky. Staff is still working on who will be responsible for enforcing the stricter ordinance and has some work to do to get there.
Meik said part of the problem is the city’s municipal code, which needs a complete overhaul to include newer and updated ordinances across the board.
“It’s frustrating,” said Meik. “We have the mechanism set up, but the fines are vague. We need to come up with some ideas to help us with the water crisis we expect this summer.”
The city has until February of 2016 to meet the expected state water board’s new mandates.