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Title:

Pasadena to vote on increased water restrictions Monday

Subtitle:

Date:

2015-05-29

Summary:

May 29, 2015 - The Pasadena City Council will consider water use restriction to respond to the drought at their Monday evening meeting. -

Author:

Jason Henry

Publication:

Pasadena Star-News

Content:


Pasadena must reduce its water usage by 28 percent or it could face a $10,000 per day fine from the state, according to a staff report. FILE PHOTO

Pasadena must reduce its water usage by 28 percent or it could face a $10,000 per day fine from the state, according to a staff report. Keith Durflinger — Staff Photographer

PASADENA >> A proposal by city staff before the council Monday could limit lawn watering to twice a week and may drop that to only once a week if the city can’t hit a 15 percent reduction by July 1.

Pasadena must reduce its water usage by 28 percent or it could face a $10,000 per day fine from the state, according to a staff report.

“The 28 percent is a reach that is going to be difficult to achieve,” said City Manager Michael Beck. “We need significant compliance by everybody.”

The vote at Monday night’s council meeting could increase the city’s restrictions from Level 1 to Level 2. That primarily limits lawn watering to twice a week during the summer and requires residents and business owners to fix leaks within 48 hours. City staff recommended going beyond those restrictions to include prohibitions on washing hard surfaces with potable water and watering turf within two days of measurable amounts of rain, according to staff reports.

The Municipal Services Committee is also asking the city to consider stepping up its enforcement against those who violate the new restrictions; require properties sold in the city to retrofit to meet current water standards; and approve an ordinance requiring new hotels to reuse water from their laundry to irrigate.

The Environmental Advisory Commission in a letter to the City Council instead urged the increasing the restrictions to Level 3 immediately, as reaching 28 percent seemed “a high hurdle.” The city has reduced water usage by roughly 9 percent since implementing restrictions in 2014.

According to Beck, if the city can’t hit an interim goal of 15 percent by July 31, city staff will bring back additional recommendations in August to restrict water usage even more.

“If residents are strong in their commitment to abide by the new water restrictions, particularly only watering twice a week, then we should be able to achieve the interim goal,” Beck said.

The recommendations include an exemption for trees and shrubbery, as both city staff and residents expressed concerns that limiting water could forever damage the long-standing trees that line many of Pasadena’s streets.

At a public workshop on May 18, Mayor Terry Tornek called the drought “the new normal” and stressed that the city needed to take charge.

The restrictions, increased enforcement and conservation programs could cost the city more than $1 million to fully implement, he said.

According to a staff report, Pasadena Water and Power is reviewing its pay structure for a future council vote that could include a drought penalty for excessive use.
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Jason Henry

Jason Henry covers Local Governments and Education Reach the author at jason.henry@sgvn.com or follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonMHenry.

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