Tuesday, April 21, 2015 • City residents must conserve water

Mandatory water conservation measures have arrived for residents in the city of Susanville.

Dan Newton, the city’s public works director, presented an update to the city council at its Wednesday, April 15 meeting in light of Governor Gerry Brown’s April 1 executive order and an extension of regulations by the State Water Resources Control Board for municipal water suppliers such as the city of Susanville.

Last year the city of Susanville adopted a State II Water Alert in response to the state’s actions, but Newton said the city did not actively enforce the restrictions since they came so late in the season, but he said the restrictions make sense now given the continuing drought and the upcoming summer watering season. He expects the water board to release new regulations Friday, April 17, after the newspaper’s deadline.

Newton said the city of Susanville must comply with orders from the governor and the Water Board to reduce water consumption by its customers by as much as 35 percent below usage levels set in September 2014. He said during the winter months city residents use about one million gallons of water a day, but the usage soars to about five million gallons a day during the summer months.

Councilmember Lino Callegari encouraged Newton to explore a grant to install a pumping system so the city could put an unused water storage tank online. He also said the fire department should look into getting a surplus water truck from Sierra Army Depot.

Newton also expressed his concern that conservation efforts by city residents would lower the revenue from the water fees.

Mayor Brian Wilson said the city needs a plan to conserve water, especially since city water usage increased last year.

“It’s not good news,” Wilson said.

How can residents conserve water?
Here are the emergency water conservation regulations imposed by the state.

What’s prohibited for everyone?

  • Using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways.
  • Allowing runoff when irrigating with potable water.
  • Using hoses with no shutoff nozzles to wash cars.
  • Using potable water in decorative water features that do not recirculate the water.
  • Using outdoor irrigation during and 48 hours following measurable precipitation.

What’s required for businesses?

  • Restaurants and other food service establishments can only serve water to customers upon request.
  • Hotels and motels must provide guests with the option of not having towels and linens laundered daily.

What water suppliers must do (the city of Susanville)

  • Impose restrictions on outdoor irrigation.
  • Notify customers about leaks that are within the customer’s control.
  • Report on water usage monthly.
  • Report on compliance and enforcement.

Stage II Water Alert designed to conserve 15 to 25 percent of the city’s monthly usage
These restrictions and conservation measures were implemented by the Susanville City Council last July.

  • All pools and spas shall be equipped with a recirculation pump and shall be constructed lead proof. Water use for ornamental ponds and fountains shall be prohibited.
  • All industries and large commercial water users, such as schools, supermarkets, civic buildings, etc., shall update their Water Conservation Plans to indicate a 25-percent reduction in water use and submit to the city for Susanville for approval within 30 days of this declaration.
  • Parks and school grounds shall be watered at night only, three nights per week and shall update their Water Conservation Plan to indicate a 25-percent reduction in water use and submit to the city of Susanville within 30 days of this declaration
  • All new developments (homes) shall be required to install low-flow devices, i.e., toilets and showerheads, and pay a $300 fee to the city of Susanville prior to construction for the purchase of water conservation retrofit kits.
  • Upon the implementation of a Stage II declaration, no new landscaping shall be installed.
  • All residential and commercial customers shall be required to water at night and for only three days per week. They shall also be encouraged to use low-flow sprinkler heads and/or drip irrigation systems.
  • Washing of driveways and parking lots, except as necessary for health and safety, shall be prohibited.
  • All city of Susanville residential and commercial water customers using excessive quantities of water shall be required to install retrofit kits. (The city of Susanville will have water conservation retrofit kits available.)
  • The city of Susanville may tier water rates to discourage excessive use of water and penalize water customers who fail to meet the 15- to 25-percent reduction.