San Carlos’ plan to impose water conservation measures during dry times like the current drought and fine violators is “unfair” because the city hasn’t first educated residents about how to improve their use, according to one councilman.
But Councilman Matt Grocott found himself in the minority Monday night when the council voted 3-1, with Councilman Bob Grassilli recusing himself, to give itself authority to declare a water shortage emergency and impose conservation measures once the state or local supplier California Water Company first declares its own.
Grassilli stepped aside from the vote because he has a business arrangement with the California Water Company and he wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict, he told the Daily Journal after the City Council meeting.
During a water emergency in San Carlos, vehicle washing is banned unless a shutoff nozzle or similar equipment is used as is using water in a way that runs off. Landscape watering will be prohibited from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and customers risk citations if they’ve been notified in writing to repair defective plumbing or irrigation and fails to do so within five business days. Water use is also banned for washing hard surface areas like driveways, filling decorative water features or operating a car wash unless the water is recirculated or recycled. Restaurants will also not serve water unless requested and other uses could be determined wasteful by the Public Works director or public utility.
Violators will be issued citations punishable as infractions. No dollar amount has been decided yet.
Grocott said the ordinance’s enforcement language is too ambiguous and doesn’t specifically define terms like “waste” or “overwatering” which leaves water users unclear on whether they are violating the rules.
Grocott also said the city should first tell residents how to conserve water before imposing restrictions and punishment.
“I felt like we haven’t done anything as an agency to educate people about the drought and how to properly irrigate. We need to tell them about the things that are mentioned in the ordinance. I feel like we haven’t done that first and it isn’t fair to people,” he said.
Several other Peninsula cities like Foster City and Redwood City have also implemented water preservation measures in response to the drought. San Carlos itself has decreased municipal water use by 20 percent.
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