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City council passes emergency water ordinance

By: Philip Wood, The Telegrpah
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The Folsom City Council Tuesday night adopted an emergency ordinance that better defined wasteful water use and spelled out penalties for water wasters. The adopted ordinance identified wasted water as flowing away from a property caused by excessive applications of water beyond reasonable or practical irrigation rates, duration of application or other than incidental applications to impervious surfaces. The emergency ordinance also made clear what the penalties would be for a violator. A first violation would yield a personal or written notification of the violation, and a second violation would result in a written notification and an issuance of a notice to correct. A third violation would result in an administrative penalty, which could be a fine of up to $100, while a fourth violation could result in additional administrative penalties, mandatory installation of a water meter or discontinued water service. “The first approach is to educate,” said Kenneth Payne, director of Folsom’s utilities department, and implied that penalizing residents wasn’t the desired goal of the city. But water waste does happen. “My wife and I walk every day, and we see water wasters trying to grow their sidewalk,” said resident Jay O’Brien to the city council, who supported the ordinance. Council members Kerri Howell, Eric King, Andy Morin and Jeff Starsky all echoed the importance of water conservation and the Stage 2 Alert, and said that they have seen a positive response from some of their neighbors and residents. Council member Steve Miklos wasn’t present at the meeting. “The drought is serious,” Howell said. “Please think about whether you want to a take shower in October or resetting your sprinklers (now).” She also said if the water situation gets worse, other measures would have to be taken. Those measures would include a Stage 3 or 4 Alert, Payne said, which include not washing cars or lawn watering. On Sept. 5, Folsom issued a Stage 2 Water Alert, which limited landscape watering to three days a week. Residences with even street addresses can water Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while odd number addresses can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and nobody can water on Monday. Automatic sprinkler systems can only be used between 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Other restrictions of the Stage 2 Alert require the avoidance of excessive watering that runs off onto sidewalks, streets or gutters, and restaurants will only serve water upon request. In June, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a 25 percent decrease in water deliveries to municipal suppliers, which included Folsom. It was in response to the Bureau’s action that the city declared a Stage 2 Water Alert. Residents who want to learn more about what they can do to conserve water can call the utilities department at 355-7275 to schedule an appointment to have their water use evaluated and recommendations will be given about how to use water more efficiently.