Sonora, CA – Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) customers face new water conservation measures, restrictions and possible penalties.
At Tuesday meeting, the board voted 4 to 1 to implement Phase III amended mandatory water restrictions and 30% reduction of usage, compared to 2013 levels. One of the key issues for the board was to make sure not to confuse customers on the amount of water they need to save, as some members thought had been done in the past. The staff had recommended amending the restrictions to set a “goal” of a 30% water reduction, but board member John Maciel wanted that clarified saying, “If we’re going to go through and potentially penalize people for using more than 30%, let’s make sure it’s clear. It’s a mandatory requirement. Why the soft word? Goal is a soft word. Let’s make it clear. It’s a mandatory 30%.”
TUD General Manager Tom Scesa outlined the rules regarding penalties and stricter enforcement explaining, “The first one is just either a verbal or a door hanger where we say, ‘Hey, we think you have a problem’. Then the second time, we go out and they’re charged $80 and we put a restrictor [water flow device] in. The third violation is a $500 penalty, and if it gets really crazy, we can turn them off.”
Additionally, there are new limits on outdoor irrigation, 10 minutes for spraying and 30 minutes for drip systems. A change that brought up the only dissenting vote by member Jim Grinnell ,who objected that there was no wording included for using a hose to water landscaping.
As reported earlier this month, the State Water Resources Control Board announced a new nine tier draft plan for mandatory water reductions by water suppliers to meet the Governors 25% mandatory water conservation statewide. The tier ranges from 4% to 36% overall water reductions. The board placed TUD at 24% water reduction. Scesa says the state is moving quickly and wants districts to adopt usage restrictions by May 6th.