City to step up conservation within 2 weeks
by Sam Matthews and Michael Langley
Jul 18, 2014 | 8484 views | 15 15 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Water -use restrictions
Stephanie Reyna-Hiestand, city water conservation manager, photographs a malfunctioning sprinkler that was part of a set watering a stretch of landscaping in front of businesses along Tracy Boulevard near Carlton Way on Thursday morning. Reyna-Hiestand was preparing a warning for the property owner that watering at 10 a.m. will soon be prohibited by the city’s water-use restrictions.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The city of Tracy is enforcing drought-mandated restrictions on water use, but education and voluntary compliance are being emphasized over levying fines.

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 shm@tracypress.com or 830-4234. Contact Michael Ellis Langley at mlangley@tracypress.com or 830-4231.

Learn more

• 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.

Comments
(15)
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rayderfan
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July 24, 2014
I was driving north on Tracy Blvd at Windsong on Tuesday morning about 4:00 a.m. and the sprinklers in the median were spraying water all over the place. In the street, on the curb, on the grass.

I would hope the City of Tracy takes a look at their own water misuse before they start citing people for not aiming their sprinklers properly.
MrSycamore
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July 22, 2014
I'll do my part once I see the City fix all the broken sprinkler heads that are watering the street in the afternoon.
ConcernedParents
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July 20, 2014
Will the H2O cops wear speedos?

emmaspencer
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July 19, 2014
A month ago I sent a letter to the city of tracy about their water usage, they still haven't fixed the two sprinklers on Shulte Rd. that spew water out like a fountain every time watering takes place!!!!! WHERE ARE THE WATERING POLICE NOW!!!!!
newtotracy
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July 18, 2014
I was driving around last night to go get dinner and noticed a lot of awfully green lawns...mostly at businesses. The hospital for one is still looking quite lush.

Now, I recognize that when you have a big lawn or even a playing field...the cost of allowing that area to die only to have to replant or revamp (better idea!) is somewhat prohibitive...especially to cash-strapped schools.

there needs to be some sort of a balance here...there should be NO clean cars or carwashes...seriously...priorities people! I'd rather have food and drinking water than a nice shiny car to show how cool I am. You want to clean your car? Fill a bucket with your shower water while it heats...and wash the car with that...

giant lawns around businesses need to become a dinosaur...playing fields should be turf not grass...school can't afford it? hit up alumni...they seemed pretty willing to fix up the field at THS...looks lovely and I believe it's turf.

Watering between 9 am and 7 pm is crazy...it just burns up the water...water at night and briefly...if your lawn is brown, then you're doing your part.

victor_jm
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July 18, 2014
There is also a water cost with driving around while getting dinner.
suzyd
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July 18, 2014
What about water runoff from Hoyt park sprinklers? I live across the street and see that all the time.

And 6th street pavilion here water "park" for kids is? The water runoff goes in street!!
user444
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July 19, 2014
I agree on the car wash issue. So much water! We can all have dirty cars till this is resolved.
behonestguys
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July 18, 2014
And the City and Surland want to build an "aquatics center" at the Ellis project that will use a bunch of water? Where's the water going to come from during dry years, especially if Jerry Brown has his way and builds his twin tunnels to siphon the Delta for the benefit of voter-rich Southern California. Will they take it from the farmers who need it to grow food for us? Figure out your priorities folks!
tracyresdnt
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July 18, 2014
Is the State reducing the amount of fresh water that the Smelt get by 20%?

ertion
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July 23, 2014
If nobody takes showers, the smellt will increase.
Macpup
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July 18, 2014
So the drought has created a new bureaucracy - watering police. The fining will begin soon because the City will need the revenue to pay the watering police staff.
rayderfan
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July 18, 2014
The Watering Police should be armed.

"With Squirt Guns."
LianaS
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July 18, 2014
I see the schools running sprinklers during daylight hours. Hopefully that will be changed soon. It will take a lot of houses to equal all those playing fields.
ertion
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July 18, 2014
I would suggest the water police go around to the various schools and walk around while they water their grounds. I've seen more than a few broken sprinkler heads that just pour the water out a straight pipe.

oh, and some of these water during the day.


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