The City of Ripon is on track towards enacting mandatory water conservation measures.
The first reading and introduction of an amendment to an existing ordinance was approved last week by the Ripon City Council, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s request that all residents of the state reduce water consumption by 20 percent during these current drought conditions.
“This ordinance is the first step in implementing mandatory conservation measures,” Public Works Director Ted Johnston said.
Next up will be May 6 when he’s scheduled to present a resolution to elected leaders on establishing the conservation plan. They paved the way by giving their OK on the add-on to the ordinance: “During drought conditions, the City Council may implement temporary water conservation measures and penalties by resolution.”
Part of that move could include the use of water meters. However, not all homes in Ripon are metered, in particular, those in the older sections of town, according to Johnston.
“Staff is in the middle of a rate study,” he said. “To install meters, we need to know how we are going to pay for it – and then we’ll have a better idea after finishing the study of when we can start installing more meters.”
Johnston estimated that about half the homes in town are metered.
“Without meters, we cannot control how much water is being used,” Councilman Dean Uecker said.
City Administrator Kevin Werner added that a state law is in place in which all homes must be metered by 2025.
“A plan was put forward about six or eight years ago,” Councilman Leo Zuber noted. “And it was said that non-metered would pay the cost of the meter.
“It’s time to put that on paper and get moving.”
Most of the water used by residents is for landscaping, Werner noted.
“(Landscaping) uses 50 percent of the water we have,” Vice Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt said.
Mayor Chuck Winn would like to see non-potable water used for this purpose.
“We don’t use all of our non-potable water,” he said. “We need to pursue (into our plan) and maximize the program.”
The water used by the city comes from ground water. Johnston mentioned that the water levels thus far haven’t been affected by the drought. “But that can change over time if the drought continues,” he said.
Overall concerns state-wide are the lack of surface water from lakes and reservoirs being fed by rain and melting snow pack. For many communities, this is their main source of water.
As for Ripon, once the ordinance is adopted, staff can then begin an outreach to residents, utilizing the website, the public access channel, utility bill inserts, and public classes at the Community Center, Johnston said.
“Water conservation measures will be included in the standards for new construction in the development agreements,” he added.