Grover Beach residents told to cut water use or face penalties

A sign greets people entering Grover Beach.
A sign greets people entering Grover Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Grover Beach residents and business owners must reduce their water use by 10 percent or face penalties, according to a water shortage declaration approved by local leaders this week.

The Grover Beach City Council voted unanimously Monday to declare a Stage 3 water shortage, which immediately triggered mandatory conservation measures for all of the city’s 4,000 customers.

Grover Beach’s water-shortage plan sets a “benchmark” annual rainfall at 20 inches each season (July 1 through June 30). The Stage 3 condition was met because average rainfall over the past three years was 46 percent of the benchmark.

The mandatory measures prohibit the use of potable water to clean streets and to wash sidewalks, as well as for construction purposes and new landscaping (except for drought-tolerant plants).

Jim Copsey, Grover Beach’s police chief and assistant city manager, said many city customers have already successfully reduced their water use, but added: “In looking at the water bills there are some people who use a lot of water — quite a few businesses and quite a few individual homes. Lawns use a lot of water.”

In addition, Copsey said, city officials will examine their own water use for possible ways to meet the 10 percent reduction. They are considering shutting off the water and closing Mentone Basin Park at Trouville Avenue and South 14th Street.

“It costs money to get a park back into shape once it goes brown,” Copsey said. “But we’re in a water shortage, and we have to take these measures to save our water supply.”

The city draws its water from Lopez Lake and an underground aquifer, which stretches from southern San Luis Obispo County to Santa Maria.

City officials also plan to contract with or hire a part-time, temporary employee to help monitor the city’s customer accounts to make sure all are meeting the 10 percent reduction.

Grover Beach already also offers several programs including cash rebates to those who replace their lawns with drought tolerant plants, rebates for purchasing water-efficient washing machines, and replaces older toilets with low-flow models.

More information is available at http://grover.org/index.aspx?NID=221 or by calling the Public Works Department at 473-4520.

How the penalty works

Customers must cut water use by 10 percent compared to the same time a year ago. Violators get two warnings before a penalty is assessed.

First-time violators may face a 100 percent increase in their rate. Second and third violations could face 200 percent and 300 percent increases.

For example: A residential customer's bill for water use is $155.22. Under a first violation penalty, the bill is increased to $310.44. With a second violation, the bill would be $465.66. With a third violation the bill would be $620.88.

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