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Ripon cutting water use 20%

Council will impose rules in response to drought

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POSTED February 21, 2014 1:20 a.m.

The City of Ripon will soon adopt water conservation measures.

On Tuesday, elected leaders directed staff to prepare an ordinance for an upcoming Ripon City Council meeting that will comply with Gov. Jerry Brown’s state-wide request that communities reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

This comes as a result of the state’s current drought conditions.

“The concern state-wide is the lack of surface water from lakes and reservoirs fed by rain and melting snow pack,” Public Works Director Ted Johnston said.

Ripon’s water is supplied by ground wells.

“Our (ground) water levels have not been affected by the drought. But this can change over time if the drought continues,” said Johnston.

He noted that about half the homes in town are non-metered, with residents paying a flat rate on their water bills. Johnston would like to see more water meters installed at these homes.

“Since half are not metered, how does will the City determine the reduced consumption?” asked Councilman Leo Zuber.

Johnston indicated that monitoring the ground water wells on a monthly basis can determine water usage.

He estimated that 60 to 70 percent of water usage by residents is for landscape purposes.

Zuber noticed on some of his recent walks around town that some residents will flood-irrigate their front yard, causing water to spill into the sidewalk gutters. “It’s almost enough to fill up my swimming pool,” he said.

Johnston, in his research for implementing basic water conservation measures, discovered that some communities are limiting the days of the week when residents can water.

“For instance, those with an even (number) address can only water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” he said. “Homes with an odd (number) address are only allowed to water on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

“No watering would be allowed on Monday.”

Johnston added that the City could impose fines on those in violation of the water conservation proposal.

“The fines could be $20 to $50 as a first warning, and as much as $250 to the repeat offenders,” he said.

Other measures, according to Johnston, could include restrictions on the use of hoses without hand-held triggered shut-off devices for washing cars, driveways, and sidewalks.

Mayor Chuck Winn favored water-metering devices as part of the building standards not to mention recycling devices to recapture some of the overflow water.

In addition, Johnston said that those who fail to heed on their consumption would have water meters placed on their homes. “It would come at their cost,” he said.

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