General Manager Janice McClintock reminded the board of directors that Gov. Jerry Brown had declared a drought state of emergency in California on Jan. 17 and that they must follow suit.
She said California was in the second year of a record drought, and the community services district staff recommended creating a Stage 1 Mandatory Water Conservation ordinance.
The ordinance includes water limits prohibiting irrigation between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in privately owned areas and between 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in public areas from May to October. It also restricts other outdoor water uses, such as washing cars, boats or sidewalks, she said.
Director Jim Lamb agreed with her sense of urgency.
“This is a crisis across California,” he said. “We’re so far behind, I don’t think it is smart or prudent not to act.”
Lamb said residents could conserve more water if they knew how to modify their own sprinkler systems, for example. He suggested offering a service to educate people and help them make water-saving changes.
Director Celeste Farron said she feared that enforcing water restrictions would place a burden on Mountain House’s only community code enforcement officer. McClintock said the code enforcement officer was already working out how to handle it and would present a plan in the coming weeks.
The board voted unanimously for McClintock’s proposed ordinance.
The general manager also asked the board to consider spending an extra $30,000 to speed up an ongoing five-year upgrade of the community’s landscaping and irrigation systems.
She reminded the directors that the $190,000 they approved for the 2013-14 fiscal year capital improvement project was for only the first phase of landscaping improvements. She said it included replacing fine fescue grass with shrubs and putting in a water-efficient irrigation system.
She said the new priority would be to replace the grass with drought-tolerant five-gallon shrubs, which are more resilient than the planned one-gallon size, at a cost of $30,000 more.
Farron suggested that the district remove the grass but not plant anything new until the drought broke and water reserves went back up.
McClintock said she would return to the board with a cost estimate to remove the plants without replacing them.
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