Windsor is taking water conservation to the next level by imposing mandatory restrictions and stepping up “early morning irrigation patrols.”
The Town Council this week declared a Stage 2 water shortage emergency because the initial call for 20 percent voluntary conservation issued in February has fallen short.
While Windsor customers through the end of June cut water use by 15 percent compared to last year, dry conditions require more water stinginess, officials said.
The water saving by residents has been commendable, officials said, but not enough.
“We really need to do more, given the condition of our water supply,” Public Works Director Toni Bertolero told the Town Council prior to the 4-1 vote to impose mandatory restrictions.
Bertolero noted that all water contractors in Sonoma County are moving toward mandatory conservation, particularly after the state emergency regulations that went into effect last month that prohibit water waste and call for potential fines of up to $500 for each day of violation.
Windsor decided to keep its maximum fine at $112 per violation, and Town Council members made it clear they aren’t looking to be heavy- handed.
“Our focus is more on compliance than penalties. We’re trying to educate,” Councilwoman Robin Goble said. “We’re not anxious to go out and fine them.”
“You give them a warning ... ‘We are in a drought, and here’s the things you can’t do,’ ” is how Mayor Bruce Okrepkie said violators will be treated.
Windsor called for “Stage I” voluntary conservation earlier this year after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought and asked for 20 percent cutbacks.
In the face of persistent dry conditions, the state last month adopted mandatory water restrictions for outdoor uses that included:
No over-watering in a way that causes run off.
No washing of cars unless there is a shut-off valve.
No hosing of “hardscapes,” such as driveways and sidewalks.
No use of decorative fountains unless they have a recirculating system.
Windsor’s Stage I included all those prohibitions, Bertolero noted, but to achieve the 20 percent goal, she recommended mandatory conservation.
That means water will be served in restaurants only upon request. Residents and businesses can irrigate their vegetation only three days a week and between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Initial filling of any swimming pool is prohibited, as well as watering of new turf grass or replacement grass.
Councilman Steve Allen objected to the latter prohibitions involving swimming pools and new lawns and was the sole vote against the resolution.
“We’ve already taken a number of steps to reduce our use,” he said. “It feels a little bit draconian.”
“Hopefully it’s just through November and we have enough (rain) to ease up a bit,” Councilwoman Deb Fudge said.