Town Looks At Strict Water Conservation Ordinance

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In an attempt to slow increasing consumption, the town water department has developed a new water conservation ordinance.

The 12-page document has been submitted to the Payson Town Council and will receive a first reading at the Dec. 12 meeting.

If passed, it will replace an ordinance that did little more than delineate conservation stage levels according to the amount of water in storage tanks.

“The old ordinance merely says that if we cannot keep up with the demand, we put (the appropriate) conservation stage in,” Public Works Director Buzz Walker said. “It doesn’t get into specifics of changing out toilets and requiring waterless urinals and all that kind of stuff.”

Ordinance 620 the proposed measure retains conservation stage levels, but ties them to “resource status levels” that incorporate weather conditions and historic data as well as storage reserves.

It gives the town manager power to invoke conservation stages II through IV when demand is greater than “safe production capability” (defined as 90 percent of total available water resources) for increasing periods.

Stage II will be implemented after demand exceeds production for three consecutive days. It prohibits such activities as washing vehicles, filling pools and using water from fire hydrants.

When demand exceeds production for two consecutive weeks, Stage III restrictions will take effect. In addition to the Stage II restrictions, it prohibits such activities as irrigation and outdoor watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and permits odd-even day restrictions if needed.

Stage IV is enacted when demand exceeds total production capability. In addition to the Stage II restrictions, it bans irrigation and outdoor watering altogether.

Stages II-IV, when implemented, are estimated to reduce water use by 5, 10 and 30 percent respectively.

Ordinance 620 also mandates the establishment of yearly water conservation goals and appropriate measures to achieve them when precipitation levels for the previous year fall below the historic average of 22 inches.

Such measures will be implemented immediately with the goal of reducing demand by a percentage equal to the percentage of shortfall.

The proposed ordinance also requires:

  • Water conservation signs be posted in public, semi-public and governmental rest room and shower facilities.
  • Conservation cards or brochures be placed in a visible location in the guest rooms of hotels, motels and other lodging facilities.
  • Nurseries provide low-water use landscape literature and efficient irrigation guidelines to their customers and to tag or sign their low-water use plants. Similar requirements are placed on landscaper contractors and other landscape professionals.
  • Title companies to provide purchasers of real estate with the town’s indoor and outdoor conservation literature. Such information will also be provided to those seeking building permits or initiating new water service.

Under the new ordinance, water waste of any kind is prohibited, as are new turf areas, artificial water features such as ponds and lakes larger than 50 gallons are prohibited, plants that require spray irrigation and the use of misters. Charity car washes are encouraged to utilize commercial car washing facilities and automatic shutoff nozzles are required for all outdoor uses.

The new ordinance also specifies indoor conservation requirements, including:

  • Repair of all leaks from private water lines within 15 days.
  • Use of toilets using 1.6 gallons of water per flush, faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads in all new construction and remodeling.
  • Use of waterless urinals and self-closing faucets in all new and remodeled public and commercial buildings.

Ordinance 620 applies to all water, including effluent and all residents, businesses and governmental entities within town limits. Violations will be enforced three ways:

  • Fines of $20, $50, $100 and $200 for successive violations.
  • Termination of service.
  • Prosecution as a civil violation subject to a maximum fine of $2,500 for each day the violation continues.

Walker announced his intention to develop the new conservation ordinance following a dry year when residents increased consumption every month, including those summer months when Stage II restrictions were in effect. Consumption peaked in July when 69 million gallons were used a 16-percent increase over July 2001.

“We hit some record highs this year even though we had record dry weather, and you just can’t ignore that,” he said. “The proposed ordinance is specific. It goes right to it before you run into problems.”

Through Oct. 31, Payson had received a total of 7.11 inches of precipitation for the year. Last weekend’s rainfall added .65 inches to that total, according to Anna Mae Deming, Payson’s National Weather Service observer.

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