PLEASANTON — The city council has unanimously approved a 15% water reduction mandate for residents and businesses, effective October through March 2022.
The council declared a local drought emergency and Stage 2 water shortage during the Oct. 5 meeting. Effective immediately, residents and businesses will be allowed to irrigate one day a week, with the overall water usage goal of 15% less than the same time last year. The action does not include increased drought rates or excessive use penalties.
“It's easy to support this, because it is basically the right thing to do,” said Mayor Karla Brown.
Citing the anticipation of another dry winter and ongoing concerns over future water supplies, the mandate is designed to help ensure water quality and safety going into 2022, while preparing for any future water emergencies. According to staff, the city council will review the mandate every 60 days and change the orders as needed.
“I'm glad to see this. I frankly would have liked to have seen it done sooner, but better late than never,” said Councilmember Kathy Narum. “We went through this seven or eight years ago, and our residents really rose to the occasion … I really hope they will do that again.”
Water levels at the Oroville Dam, which supplies the Tri-Valley's water wholesaler Zone 7 District area, are at an historic all-time low of 22%. In July, Governor Newsom expanded the emergency voluntary conservation program to 15%. Soon afterward, Zone 7 and local water retailers did the same. According to staff, Pleasanton fell short of the goal by conserving just 7%, thereby triggering the new emergency 15% requirements.
One resident who spoke during public comment agreed with the mandate but added it might be unfair to those who have been conserving all along.
“We have done everything we can to conserve, and we can’t conserve one more drop,” said Diana Mendenhall. “Don’t ever start fining people who can’t do anymore.”
Stage 2 requirements for water usage include using water in ways that does not facilitate runoff; the prohibition of watering within 48 hours of measurable rainfall; the washing of cars, but only with functioning shut-off nozzles; the use of potable, recirculated water for water features and fountains; and repairs or leaks addressed within eight hours of discovery.
“The city is obligated to comply just like any other customer,” said Kathleen Yurchak, city director of operations and water utilities. “But it’s important to know our largest water base is residential.”
Councilmember Jack Balch asked if there were any customer-incentive programs available to the public.
“I’d like to try and see how (the residents) are being made aware … do we have any rebates?” asked Balch.
Yurchak replied that the city does have a lawn conservation rebate program in partnership with Zone 7. She added that other regional programs and conservation outreach would be made available to the public.
Councilmember Valerie Arkin said she took advantage of the rebates made available during the last drought, but at the time, they weren’t available for backyards.
“Can we extend it to the backyards?” asked Councilmember Valerie Arkin. “Is that something we can consider?”
Yurchak noted that the city is considering but has yet to include that aspect.
“It’s hard to inspect backyards on an ongoing basis, but it’s something we can bring back for consideration,” she continued.
For the time being, City Manager Nelson Fialho urged the message of overall conservation.
“It’s really important for the public to know that what we are doing here is a kind of lowercase mandatory water conservation,” he said. “It’s important to signal going into winter that conservation is really important … The greater point at the moment is that folks conserve at 15% however they can.”
For additional information, visit www.cityofpleasantonca.gov.