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Williams Discusses Drought: Citizens asked to begin conserving water in ‘concern’ state

At the Recent, April 15, 2015, City Council Meeting, Williams Mayor, John Troughton Jr. has asked residents to begin reducing water usage after announcement that City well levels and average usage is at a state of concern.

The topic of water conservation began when the Council revisited the resolution to update the landscape and irrigation system to Venice Park, a vital park to the local soccer players.

“The last sitting council discussed the rehabilitation of Venice Park and we are revisiting that,” said Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy, “Venice Park is in disrepair and it has been barely watered due to the insufficient irrigation system.”

Kennedy also commented that although the city has reduced its water usage on the park – the conservation efforts would end if the park is replanted.

“We would be using a considerable amount of water for the newly seeded lawn as it requires many watering’s throughout the initial growing stages,” said Kennedy.

Williams Mayor, John Troughton Jr. asked City Water Operations Manager, Greg White what state the city’s well levels are.

“We are on track with seasonal levels, but last year our levels fluctuated greatly,” said White, “so I would say we are in a concerned state.”

Kennedy proposed a draft resolution to the City of Williams regarding required water reductions that may be enforceable once the state mandate has been set.

The draft drought emergency response plan included the following:

  • Tier 1 level to be enacted when static water elevation is 10 feet below normal and voluntary water restrictions is to include the elimination of watering during the daytime hours between 10am and 6pm, and the reduction of residential and commercial irrigation watering to three days a week.
  • Tier 2 level will be enacted with static water elevation is 25 feet below normal and mandatory elimination of watering during the daytime hours between 10am and 6pm, and the reduction of residential and commercial irrigation to only watering to three days a week, and to encourage the reduction of household water usage in addition to discouraging outdoor washing cars, driveways and sidewalks.
  • Tier 3 level will be enacted with static water elevation is 50 feet below normal and mandatory elimination of watering during the daytime hours between 7am and 9pm, and the reduction of residential and commercial irrigation watering to one day a week based on address and eliminate all outdoor washing of cars, driveways and sidewalks. The City will also notify the Department of Water Resources so that water transfers from the groundwater source will be reduced or eliminated until static elevations come back to Tier 2 levels.
  • Tier 4 level when the static water elevation reaches 75’ feet below normal and all above tiers will become mandatory. The city will also notify the Governors office of the situation and request any regional groundwater transfers to be stopped.

 

Thought the drought emergency response plan is in its draft state, the realization of not having water coming out of your facet is all too real.

“Mandate or not, we should be the one setting the examples and if we are going to impose these tiered restrictions on people,” said Councilmember Boes, “We need to be the first ones to do it, and start ourselves on Tier 1 or even Tier 2.”

Councilmember Boes also commented on the rehabilitation of Venice Park.

“Even if there is some forgiveness a new construction, having ourselves a brand new lush new green park would be sending the wrong message to our residents,” said Boes, “But with that same thought, we shouldn’t let our parks turn brown because we will run into bigger problems with dust and health problems, we should maintain our parks – but putting in a brand new park, I don’t think that will be sending the right message to our citizens until these mandates are lifted.”

Williams Mayor agreed with Boes’ statement and added, “I do not want to go from concern to critical or dangerous. We should start conserving now!

“We are in a concerned water state right now and I don’t want go beyond that get beyond that,” said Mayor Troughton, “As for the use of the fields we have enough parks and places for kids to play soccer on with the schools and other city parks – we need to start dealing with the possible reality that there isn’t very much water.”

Williams Resident and former councilmember, Angela Fulcher spoke regarding the rehabilitation of Venice Park.

“I know that the soccer fields are important and that it is important to keep our kids active,” said Fulcher, “however, we need to lead by example, and if the governor says that we need to cut back by 25%, then we should be willing to cut back by 30%.”

Fulcher also commented on the topic of rehabbing Venice Park while she maintained a council seat.

“We’ve been talking about this drought for years, and when Mr. Jauregui came to us last year and said we needed these parks and said we would get into trouble if we didn’t have these parks; we told him that we would be more than happy to revisit the situation when we were in a drought situation – well here we are a few months later and the drought has actually gotten worse,” said Fulcher, “The city should be keeping things status quo until we can figure out what is going on – It’s not what Governor Brown has to say about the drought, it’s what Mother Nature is going to give us as weather is concerned.”
Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy commented that the city is nowhere near a conservation effort of 25%.

“We need to save water – according to usage reports we are not even near our 25% water reduction based from 2013,” said Kennedy, “We were used 8% more this January than we did in January of 2013.”

“The issue at hand is whatever the mandate from the state says; it’s going to be for 25%. The information that we can give the citizens will be helpful in their conservation efforts,” Kennedy added.

Councilmember Bergson asked Kennedy where the current season soccer league was going to be held.

“We will be using Valley Ranch Park,” said Kennedy, “We’ve made some repairs and patches, and the large field is in great shape and ready to be played on.”

Councilmember Boes added that he would like to see the City of Williams one step ahead of its citizens.

“I would like to see the city start conserving, before the mandates are set into place to put us a tier ahead of our citizens,” said Boes, “If we ask our citizens to be at tier one, then we should be performing at tier two and so on. We need to be setting the example and showing them how much we can conserve.”

The Council went into a discussion regarding the use of non-potable water from the Williams Waste Water treatment plant to irrigate city parks.

Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy responded that with upgrades to the facility it could be possible.

“It is something that we could look at in the future, but it’s not an easy solution,” said Kennedy, “we would have to include that in the next expansion of the wastewater treatment facility.”

Councilmember Boes requested that staff look into available grants to possibly help assist with the process.

With the consensus of the Council, Mayor Troughton directed staff to urge residents to start conserving water and to finalize a draft of the Drought Emergency Response Plan.

Additionally, Councilmember Jauregui motioned to table the discussion of rehabbing Venice Park to a future meeting date.

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