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City Scene: Water conservation is important

By: Kerry Miller, Folsom City Manager
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As I am writing this commentary, it is raining outside and Folsom Lake is full to the brim. Following a long, wet winter and spring, California’s multi-year drought is officially over. While this is good news for Northern California, it is no reason to abandon the smart water conservation practices we have adopted in recent years. After the Governor declared a statewide drought in 2008, we imposed mandatory water use restrictions and asked residents to cut water use by 20 percent. Our residents deserve a great deal of credit for their response to that request and for their spirit of cooperation. Most all residents limited landscape watering to three days per week, and used automatic sprinkler systems during night and early morning hours for maximum effectiveness. They avoided excessive watering and run-off onto streets and gutters. These outstanding efforts resulted in a significant water savings, with little or no negative impact to local landscapes. Continued conservation is a key priority for our community and our state. The state has implemented stringent water conservation mandates outlined in the 20x2020 Water Conservation Plan. That plan, along with Senate Bill X7-7, mandates a 20 percent reduction in per-capital water use by the end of 2020. Cities that do not comply face the risk of losing valuable state and federal grants that support key water projects. State mandates also require that Folsom and all other cities up and down the state install water meters on all residential properties by January 2013 and begin charging customers for actual water use by March 2013. Statistics show that those who pay metered rates generally reduce water use by 20 to 30 percent. Folsom’s water meter installation project is complete, and we are making plans to help residents prepare for the transition to paying metered water rates. Throughout 2012, residents will receive a flat rate bill for payment. For comparative purposes, residents will also receive an informational metered rate bill showing the actual volume of water used and the amount that would be paid under metered rates. We are hopeful that this one-year comparative billing program will help residents reduce water usage to avoid paying higher amounts for monthly water use. In addition, the city will continue offering free in-home water consultations by water conservation experts. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to call (916) 355-7252 to schedule an appointment for this valuable service. It is clear to me that Folsom residents truly care about water efficiency, and understand why it is important to conserve even when our lake, rivers and creeks appear full. I greatly appreciate your impressive water conservation efforts during our drought years. I also thank you for your on-going recognition that water is a precious natural resource that must not be taken for granted. I welcome your comments at kmiller@folsom.ca.us. Folsom City Manager Kerry Miller’s column, City Scene, publishes the last Wednesday of every month. He can be reached at kmiller@folsom.ca.us.