Just a month after Governor Jerry Brown announced he was allowing local agencies to set conservation goals, the Long Beach Water Department Board of Commissioners approved a return to Stage I Shortage practices, which will officially restrict lawn watering to three days per week, as opposed to the current limit of twice weekly.
The board’s move removes the more intense adherence to Stage II water restrictions, which limit lawn watering to twice per week, approved at a meeting about a year ago, as the city created state-mandated policies at the local level aimed at cumulatively reducing water use by 16 percent.
The Long Beach Water Department staff recommended the board rescind the Stage II restrictions currently in place.
Opinions among the board varied, about half of whom in support of returning to Stage I practices, which allow watering three days per week, but mandate a return to a twice-per week watering schedule upon reaching the winter months.
“It’s been my experience that two days per week is sufficient to water my grass,” said Commissioner Harry Saltzgaver. “It seems to send a mixed message to the community, and they’re saying, ‘Ok, now what days am I supposed to water? I thought this was an important deal.’”
Saltzgaver said he would not be supporting the resolution. Commissioner Martinez concurred, saying such a move (to temporarily increase the number of days in which to water per week), would create damage and alter the “new normal” under which the city was operating.
Conversely, LBWD Vice President Art Levine called the changes “modest” and “appropriate” for the city and its residents, given their consciousness and the objective improvement of the state’s water supply. Commissioners Gloria Cordero and Robert Shannon agreed.
However, Shannon stipulated that should the city return to Stage I restrictions, they should step up enforcement efforts and caution residents to follow, in terms of observing violations and reporting them, creating a voluntary motion with such an emphasis.
“This is eerily like the rise in oil prices that we had a few years ago,” said Shannon. “[…] The city budgeted under the assumption that there would be a certain price per barrel of oil, and it shot through the ceiling, which of course caused folks in the council—at least some of them—to say that somehow, we’ve got to assume a higher price of oil, and there was just a great amount of push-pull, as to what was the way to react.”
Shannon was alluding to the sudden drop in oil prices, which the city hadn’t accounted for, and the deficit the city is now facing, based off of revenue projections.
“What it illustrates, analogous to this situation is that it’s easy and tempting to overreact to what may be a short term reaction,” said Shannon. “[…] and it turned out to be just that.”
Levine stressed the campaign’s push for voluntary water conservation on behalf of the community, and pushed for the language adopted in the substitute motion to minimize the negative stigma of “enforcement.”
Ultimately, Saltzgaver, Cordera and Shannon voted in favor of the substitute motion and Levine and Martinez voted against.
The city will officially revert to Stage I water shortage restrictions five days after a public announcement.
Remaining water restrictions in effect include the following:
- Residents and businesses can only irrigate landscape during summer months on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until September 30, 2016. Two-day per week landscape irrigation (Tuesdays and Saturdays) will begin in the winter on October 1, 2016.
- Residents and businesses can only irrigate landscape 10 minutes per station per watering day, or 20 minutes if using water-efficient rotating nozzles
- Residents and businesses can only irrigate landscape before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m.
- Residents and businesses cannot irrigate the landscape nor any other use of water beyond saturation, causing unreasonable runoff
- Residents with pools and spas must use a cover to prevent evaporation
- Residents and businesses cannot hose down hardscape with a hose, unless using a pressurized cleaning device
- Residents and businesses cannot irrigate landscape during measurable rainfall nor anytime within 48 hours afterwards
- Residents cannot wash a vehicle with a hose unless it has a water shut-off nozzle or device attached to the hose
- Residents and businesses cannot allow the wasting of water due to breaks, leaks or other malfunctions in the plumbing or distribution system
- Restaurants cannot serve water to customers without the customer requesting it
- Hotels and motels must post signs to notify patrons they can choose not to have linens and towels washed daily.
To report water violations, go to www.lbwater.org, call 562.570.2455 or use the LBWD’s Report a Water Waster mobile app.