Looser penalties eyed for city yard-watering infractions
May 2, 2005
Saying penalties for violating city water restrictions are intended more for education than punishment, the Carson City Public Works department is suggesting changes in city code to give residents more of a chance to comply.
“Our ultimate goal is to educate the residents of Carson City that these (restrictions) are for the benefit of the whole city,” said Public Works Operations Manager Tom Hoffert.
City code now mandates residents be given a warning the first time they violate the restrictions that govern when lawns and outside plants may be watered. On the second warning, they will be given a misdemeanor citation.
The rule change being proposed at Thursday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting would hold back the misdemeanor citation until a violator’s fifth offense.
Under the proposed ordinance, the first offense would be a verbal warning, the second would be a verbal warning, the third would be a $50 fine, the fourth a $100 fine. and for the fifth, a misdemeanor citation would be issued. The fines for the third and fourth offenses would be assessed on water bills.
Last year, the city gave out a dozen citations and more than 1,500 warnings.
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But, Hoffert said, computers monitoring the city’s water distribution show lawns are being watered when they shouldn’t be, most likely in back yards hidden by fences.
Water restrictions to prevent residents from watering lawns and gardens daily were instituted in the early 1980s. In recent years, they’ve become even more important as city officials find water demand is stronger than the city’s ability to pull it out of the ground and store it.
There’s enough water in the ground, but Carson City doesn’t have enough high-producing wells to pump it as fast as the population often uses it.
Last year, Carson City residents used a maximum of 26.5 million gallons per day. This year, Hoffert estimates the maximum will be closer to 28 million gallons a day.
A years-long drought has also cut the production of city’s wells. Hoffert said it will take at least another 18 months for water from this year’s wet winter to soak into the water table.
Two new Carson City wells have been drilled and are expected to be online this summer. Three others have been refurbished and will likely produce between 2.5 million and 3.5 million gallons per day more than last year.
All in all, Hoffert said, the city’s wells should be producing enough water to meet the demand this summer and store enough for possible emergencies, such as a wildfire, as long as nothing catastrophic happens and people abide by restrictions and lay off watering on Mondays altogether.
The Public Works Department plans on letting wells recharge that day.
“That’s really going to help us,” Hoffert said.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
If you go
What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting
When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday
Where: Sierra Room of the Community Center, 851 E. William St.
Carson City outdoor-watering restrictions
• No watering on Mondays
• Odd-numbered addresses may water before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
• Even-numbered addresses may water before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays
Restrictions are in effect from June 1 to Oct. 1. For information call Development Services Public Works Division at 887-2355, ext. 1025.