Arroyo Grande OKs new regulations to lower water use

In response to the governor’s call for mandatory water cut-backs, Arroyo Grande residents will notice several new city regulations to help encourage water conservation.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Arroyo Grande City Council discussed the governor’s latest mandate, which calls for the city to reduce overall water use by 25 percent over its 2013 water usage.

Arroyo Grande used approximately 164 gallons per capita per day in 2013, according to a city staff report. In 2014, water use decreased to 144 gallons per capita per day — roughly 12.2 percent of the 2013 number.

There is still more work to be done by the city, residents and businesses, however, the council said.

"We are in such a dire situation here," said Mayor Pro Tem Kristen Barneich, noting that she would like to in the future discuss prohibiting turf installation at new homes to help conserve water. "Things are not how they were 10 years ago. If the situation changes, we can re-address it then."

To help achieve the 25 percent conservation mark, the City Council approved several new water use regulations at its Tuesday meeting.

These include:

• Reducing city turf irrigation by 50 percent and increasing turf mowing heights to 3 inches rather than 2 inches to help conserve remaining water;

• Conducting in-person meetings with the city’s top 100 water users to offer water audits and conservation outreach;

• Using the city’s portable message board to remind the community of “no water” days; assigning staff to conduct early hours neighborhood surveys to identify property owners who violate the city's landscape watering regulations and give repeat offenders violation notices and potential citations;

• Mailing reminder notices to residents informing them of water conservation methods;

• Recognizing customers who have made “commendable efforts at water conservation” through a monthly Mayor’s Commendation, to be presented at city council meetings.

Though city staff said implementing further water restrictions was not necessary at this time, council member Tim Brown asked staff to agendize discussion on possibly instituting stricter Stage 1 water shortage restrictions.

"I still believe that the council should consider rapidly going into Stage 1 restrictions," he said at the meeting. "I don't see any benefit to waiting."

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