The state Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday authorized water agencies, including cities, to levy fines up to $500 for noncompliance with water-conservation practices.
The major restriction on the use of water in Tracy will be limiting watering of lawns by sprinklers to nighttime, reported Steve Bayley, the city’s special projects coordinator. Any “unattended watering” of lawns and shrubs — if no one is present when watering takes place — will be prohibited during the daytime hours, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We have the authority to issue fines, most between $50 and $100, but we believe our
residents will comply with the restrictions if they know what they are,” he said. “We are stressing education and voluntary compliance and aren’t anxious to issue citations.”
Bayley said Tracy had so far reduced its water consumption by 14 percent, which is far better than the state average of 5 percent and approaches Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 20 percent.
He said the city’s water conservation manager, Stephanie Reyna-Hiestand, was preparing instructions on ways Tracy residents could conserve water and which practices were mandatory.
“In order to meet these requirements, we’re going to have to go before council and have council change the drought stage that we are in to a Phase 2 or Phase 3 (drought emergency),” Reyna-Hiestand said in an interview after the state Water Resources Control Board meeting she attended Tuesday.
Tracy is already enforcing Phase 1 water conservation measures, set out by Tracy Municipal Code 11.28.170. Phase 2 calls for a 10 percent reduction in water use citywide. Phase 3 calls for using 15 percent less water.
“We have water patrol that does go out, because we do have a water conservation ordinance,” Reyna-Hiestand said. “Any time that you have water running off of your property, across a sidewalk, and it leaves your property going 150 feet in any direction or for more than five minutes unattended, you’re in violation of code.”
The water conservation manager said the patrol typically leaves a note on the door of the home in violation, giving the residents 72 hours to fix the situation.
She did add that the state board made one change to the language of the emergency restrictions: “It won’t be just city employees that can initiate citations. It can be any state or federal agent that has police power.”
Bayley reported that, so far, the city had secured enough water to meet its needs, but increased conservation would keep the city’s water requirements in line with supplies.
Tracy gets its water from three sources — the Delta-Mendota Canal, the Woodward Reservoir near Oakdale and city wells.
Bayley expects the city to rely more heavily on well water this year than in the past if drought conditions continue.
He expects to move to Phase 2 water conservation measures within two weeks. Bayley said the city staff would organize a task force to institute water savings within city departments and form a separate group within Public Works to find even more conservation opportunities in parks and other public places.
• Contact Sam Matthews at email@example.com or 830-4234. Contact Michael Ellis Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4231.
• Residents with questions about water conservation restrictions and how they apply in Tracy can call the Public Works department at 831-6300 or leave a message for Reyna-Hiestand at 831-4333.
• The city has also published some water-saving tips on its website.