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Ripon may hire water cop as water use rises
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Ted Johnston was surprised to see an increase of water usage for last month.

Since conservation efforts were implemented during the current state-wide drought, the City of Ripon had exceeded Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate on 20 percent reduction per household thanks to tougher ordinances.

In January, the City boasted 34 percent reduction compared to that of the previous year.

But the tide turned in February as Johnston, who is the Public Works director, reported a 9 percent increase during February at Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting. In comparison Manteca used 187.12 million gallons of water last month. That’s up only 80,000 gallons over February 2014 despite the city adding nearly 300 more homes and industrial/retail uses including the large Crothall commercial laundry on Airport Way.

Water use is down 22.2 percent in Manteca from the 242.2 million gallons the city’s residents went through in February 2013.

“The reason for that could be more people turning on their sprinklers (to water landscape) because of the early good weather,” he said.

Landscape irrigation accounts for 20 to 50 percent of residential water consumption.

Help may be on the way.

Elected leaders approved the hiring of a Water Conservation Coordinator. This part-time position person – the selection could be made in 30 days – would be in charge of monitoring residential as well as commercial usage of water along with issuing warnings or citations to those not complying with the ordinances.

Engineering Supervisor James Pease also noted that the City is in a nine-month process of a water metering plan. “We’re still in the design phase,” he added.

“The water meters (throughout Ripon) will be the key to our water conservation,” Councilman Mark Winchell said.

Since about 51 percent of the folks were metered prior to this, Johnston indicated that it’s been difficult to make a baseline comparison from 2013.

It’s also enough to bring concern to Mayor Leo Zuber.

“This is serious,” he said. “All of our water comes from our wells – I’m concerned that everyone will be going after our underground water.”

Johnston added that the City will soon be posting signs in certain areas in town as a reminder of the severe drought conditions.

“Those little reminders will be very important,” Councilman Mike Restuccia said.

The City, in addition, will continue to irrigate parks, but using only with the bare minimum of water “so we don’t lose it,” Johnston said.

He’s urging the folks look into low-flow toilets and shower heads along with other efficient water fixtures and appliances.

The City recommends adjusting and maintaining sprinklers based on season and condition not to mention immediate repairs on all leaks and installing water efficient fixtures and appliances.

For more information, call Ripon City Hall at 209.559.2108.