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Fresno goes to one-day-a-week watering a month early

Fresno water customers in all classes – residential, commercial, industrial – may water their outdoor green space just one day a week beginning Nov. 1.
Fresno water customers in all classes – residential, commercial, industrial – may water their outdoor green space just one day a week beginning Nov. 1. Fresno Bee file

Fresno’s water customers will face the once-a-week landscape irrigation rule a month early.

Customers in all classes – residential, commercial, industrial – may water their outdoor green space just one day a week beginning Nov. 1.

Customers with odd-numbered addresses can water on Saturday. Customers with even-numbered addresses can water on Sunday. There is no watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The City Council on Thursday gave its blessing to the change.

The current rule allows outdoor watering two days a week. City Hall had long planned to cut the limit to once a week on Dec. 1 when cooler weather arrives. But city officials decided to speed up the water-conservation measure to give Fresno a better chance of hitting a state mandate.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for El Niño.

Fresno City Council Member Steve Brandau

California is finishing its fourth straight year of devastating drought. Sacramento has told Fresno to cut its water consumption 28 percent in the nine-month period of June 2015-February 2016 compared to the same period in 2013-14.

Fresno in June through September is right on the 28 percent mark. Continuing at that pace for another five months is the challenge, especially since landscape watering is seen as the best place to make dramatic progress in conservation.

Fresnans, obviously, water their yards a lot more during the hot summer months.

Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda kept the council’s attention with a detailed water report. To wit:

▪ Esqueda said the city will launch a “Be A Zero Hero” campaign. This public education effort will ask Fresnans to voluntarily stop all outdoor watering from Nov. 1 through Feb. 29.

▪ Public Utilities also will start a water conservation recognition and reward program. This will recognize and reward residents, businesses and industries that have achieved the greatest water-use reductions.

6 billion-plus gallons of water Fresnans saved during June-September. Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda says maintaining this conservation ethic is critical during the winter months.

▪ At the council’s urging, Esqueda said his department will enhance its marketing efforts for things like turf conservation rebates. He said he will make sure Public Utilities reaches Fresnans whose first language isn’t English.

▪ Esqueda asked for authority to execute a contract with the federal Bureau of Reclamation that would allow Fresno to buy “non-storable flood flows” should this winter be especially wet. The council gave the authority and encouraged the fates to send plenty of rain this way.

▪ Esqueda asked for authority to begin work on creating an agency that would regulate the region’s aquifer as required by the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. This agency would include Fresno and several other government entities with control over the aquifer. Esqueda described a new agency of extraordinary complexity and responsibility. The council, perhaps overwhelmed by worries over a fifth year of historic drought, simply gave Esqueda the OK. Details and questions will come later.

In other action

The council postponed its debate on how Fresno handles annexation requests.

City Manager Bruce Rudd had requested a resolution saying any annexation application must get City Hall approval before it’s submitted to the Local Agency Formation Commission.

As it now stands, a private party may submit an application on its own. Rudd told the council this makes no sense, since any annexation affects a city with a tight budget and a mandate to provide services to all neighborhoods.

George Hostetter: 559-441-6272, @GeorgeHostetter

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