The Modesto City Council gave approval Tuesday to limit outdoor watering to one day a week starting next month.
The council unanimously approved the drought restriction after three new members were sworn in Tuesday evening. Kristi Ah You, Mani Grewal and Doug Ridenour took the oath of office and replaced Dave Lopez, Dave Cogdill Jr. and John Gunderson on the dais.
As of Oct. 31, Modesto reduced its water use by 29 percent through a twice-a-week watering restriction and other measures, but that is still short of the 36 percent needed to meet the state’s emergency drought regulations adopted in March.
With the tighter restriction approved Tuesday, homes and businesses with even number addresses can water Saturday and those with odd addresses Sunday. Homeowners won’t be able to time their sprinklers with the winter sunset, as one speaker suggested to the council. No watering is permitted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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This month, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a notice of violation to Modesto for not saving enough water. The state board asked the city to take additional steps to save water and update the board on its conservation efforts.
If they do not comply with the state’s drought regulations, cities could be fined as much as $10,000 a day, but the state reserves the largest fines for the worst violators, and penalties would be much smaller for missing the mark, city Utilities Director Larry Parlin said.
Modesto resident Ron Cherrier suggested the city change water utility billing statements to show homeowners how many gallons of water they use each month. The statements currently show customers’ water use in terms of units, but they might conserve more if they understood how much they used, he said.
Beside restricting outdoor watering, the city has tried other things to achieve the 36 percent reduction, such as offering cash incentives for homeowners who replace lawns with dry landscaping, enforcement patrols and monetary penalties for violators.
Parlin told the council there is no longer much interest in the lawn replacement program.
The city is well above the 36 percent reduction target for this month because of the recent rainfall.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321