Outdoor watering restrictions may loosen a little this summer, thanks to the state backing up on its conservation requirements following a wet winter season.
The city council directed staff to come back with additional information on watering proposals before making a final decision. The council had approved a two-day per week watering schedule in April.
However, in mid-May, the State Water Resources Control Board changed previous conservation regulations from a required percentage to a “stress test” approach. Initially, the City of Corcoran had seen a state mandated cut of 36 percent water savings; that figure was later changed to a 32 percent savings, based on 2013 water usage. The city has averaged an overall 31 percent conservation rate.
The new emergency regulation does not let California water consumers off the hook. While abandoning its benchmark requirement, the water board nonetheless mandates all water suppliers to operate upon the assumption that the next three years will follow the state’s drought pattern of 2012-2015. It further states that water suppliers operate with the mission of providing adequate water for the next three years.
The new standard is expected to be in place through January of 2017.
City Manager Dr. Kindon Meik said the new regulations caught the city by surprise. He ask the council for direction going forward, a step the council was not willing to take without more information.
He added that the city does not yet know how to produce calculations showing there could be a water shortage sometime in the future.
“I think we need to see what other municipalities are doing and go from there,” suggested Councilman Mark Cartwright.
Newly minted Public Works Superintendent Joe Faulkner said the city will be self-policing and suggested a third watering day could be added through the summer. However, he added, restrictions will need to be kept in place, since the city water use will be audited.