Santa Clarita Valley water agency officials gathered Tuesday to discuss conservation measures facing Santa Clarita Valley water ratepayers.
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The measures, expected to be passed by local water agencies this week, are in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent reduction in water usage due to near historic lows in rainfall levels over the last few years, and the driest year on record in 2013.
“Education is our goal, not fines,” said Dirk Marks, water resource manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which wholesales the Santa Clarita Valley’s water supply from the State Water Project to local retailers.
The idea is to raise awareness about the need to conserve, and to hit the state’s goal of 20 percent reduction in water usage, said Dan Masnada, general manager for the CLWA.
The suggested measures created by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee, which has met several times in recent months to create clear and consistent guidelines for ratepayers, are not meant to be punitive, he said.
The restrictions include no lawn-watering on Saturdays, and from April to October, there are three assigned days when one can water the lawn, and two days during the rest of the year.
Irrigation typically accounts for about 60 percent of water usage in the Santa Clarita Valley, Marks said.
There are also certain exemptions to some of the water restrictions, depending on whether the ratepayer takes part in lawn-replacement programs. For information on any possible exemptions or programs, a ratepayer should contact their water retailer.
Residents also are expected to be prohibited from hosing down driveways and sidewalks, prompted to turn off any decorative water fountains that don’t recycle water and banned from washing their cars unless the hose is fitted with a nozzle that allows it to stop running when not in use, according to the proposals.
The suggested systems being voted on this week — the Valencia Water Co. and the Santa Clarita Water Division are expected to adopt restrictions at their respective meetings Wednesday, and the Newhall County Water District on Thursday — would require at least three violations before fines occur. Los Angeles Water Works District, which includes part of unincorporated Los Angeles County, adopted the measures in July.
Furthermore, the notices of violation are expected to be followed up by contact with water officials at the respective water retailer, said Steve Cole, general manager for the Newhall County Water District.
If there’s no resolution after three violations, then the third violation could earn a $50 fine, and subsequent violations could result in fines of up to $50 per day after a fourth violation.
The restrictions have a 270-day trigger, Cole said, meaning the restrictions would be evaluated again at that time based on the rainfall levels.
The revenues from fines are up to the discretion of the respective water retailer, Cole said, but NCWD intended to put the money back into conservation programs.
The proposed restrictions are part of a Water Action Plan drafted by Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee officials in an effort to comply with the state’s mandatory water restriction requirements issued as a result of prolonged drought conditions.
The drought was declared by Brown on Jan. 17 in response to the driest year on record, water officials said.
Results from the drought can be seen in the Santa Clarita Valley, especially in Castaic Lake, a reservoir created as part of the State Water Project. The lake has seen its water levels reduced by more than 40 percent — from about 230,078 acre feet to about 147,390 acre feet, and officials have put restrictions in place there, as well.
The Santa Clarita Valley only has rights to about 2 percent of that water, according to officials, due to resource sharing with the state.
Many residents expressed concern that the new watering schedule could affect their lawns, and they could subsequently be punished by their HOAs.
However, the state passed a law that prohibits homeowner associations from punishing a resident for scaling back on landscaping under an executive order signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in April.
Santa Clarita Valley ratepayers can report suspected violations, i.e. watering on days where it’s not allowed, using a hose or sprayer without a shut-off valve, etc., to the applicable water retailer. They can also use a water agency’s Facebook page, the retailer’s website or email, but local retailers do not have any new reporting methods developed.
There’s also a website ratepayers can visit if they’re interested in more information about local programs, Marks said.
Water officials are doing their best, Marks said, to make sure Santa Clarita Valley residents and agencies aren’t “watering the concrete where nothing grows.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News