Mountain House leaders emphasize water conservation
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jun 13, 2014 | 3567 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mountain House Community Services District directors put out a request to residents on Wednesday night to get them to cut back on their water use and authorized staff to reduce watering in public areas throughout the community. Sprinklers were visible watering the grass along the sidewalk outside the government office at 230 Sterling Drive following the meeting. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Mountain House Community Services District directors put out a request to residents on Wednesday night to get them to cut back on their water use and authorized staff to reduce watering in public areas throughout the community. Sprinklers were visible watering the grass along the sidewalk outside the government office at 230 Sterling Drive following the meeting. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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MOUNTAIN HOUSE — As state drought restrictions on water use increase, the Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors recommended Wednesday that residents and the district do more to conserve.

“We should be the first ones cutting back,” Director Andy Su said.

He suggested telling residents to use 20 percent less water, in addition to the restrictions that were passed Feb. 12 when the board voted to enact a Stage 1 Mandatory Water Conservation ordinance. Stage 1 prohibits irrigation between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in privately owned areas and between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. in public areas from May to October. It also restricts other outdoor water uses, such as washing cars, boats or sidewalks. (Full list of restrictions.)

Su said the district could educate residents through the community newsletter, website and fliers.

Director Celeste Farron said the community services district should consider taking the restrictions to Stage 2 to put residents in a conservation mindset, even though the district didn’t have the means to enforce the rules yet. At Stage 2, residents have to use 90 percent or less of the water they used during the same month a year earlier.

“It will make a difference for them to know we are all in this together,” she said.

Director Bernice King Tingle said she had been doing her part by not watering her lawn for months.

“It has to start at the grassroot level,” she said. “My lawn is nearly dead.”

Returning to a topic discussed earlier this year, Su said the district could set an example by not watering the fine fescue grass around the community, instead of cutting back irrigation by 20 percent as agreed Feb. 12. He reminded the board that the grass was going to be replaced anyway through a future capital improvement project.

Su also recommended having the district staff look into other public areas around the community that could survive with less watering.

General Manager Janice McClintock said that some plants couldn’t go without water, such as the large palm trees on some of the main thoroughfares. She said it would cost too much to replace them and other vegetation. But she suggested looking into digging a well and seeking additional water rights.

Board President Steven Gutierrez, noting that Discovery Bay and Tracy both use wells, recommended getting an estimate for a well, though installing one might be costly.

The discussion sprang from a presentation by board attorney Daniel Schroeder about a notice the State Water Resources Control Board sent May 27 about the lack of water statewide. He said the letter declared an immediate curtailment for those whose rights to draw water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds were established later than 1914.

Rick Gilmore, the general manager of Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, which provides Mountain House’s water, confirmed that the new restrictions didn’t apply to Mountain House, because the district has pre-1914 water rights. But he warned that future changes might.

McClintock said that the district staff would look into the board’s suggestions and recommendations and provide more information at the June 25 meeting.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at drizzo@tracypress.com or 830-4225.

 
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