Fresno and Clovis struggled in October to meet the state’s water mandates for conservation.
It wasn’t wholly unexpected. October was warmer than normal and in previous years the cooler weather led people to shut off or reduce watering in October.
Compared with October 2013, Fresno dropped its water consumption by 21 percent, shy of the 28 percent required by the state. Fresno had met or exceeded state mandates for June, July and August, but fell short in September.
For the five-month period since the state has measured water consumption, Fresno is now below the state’s mandated 28 percent requirement.
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The state’s program will continue until February, but officials from both Fresno and Clovis recognize that the largest reductions were likely to occur during the summer months because of landscaping irrigation.
“It’s up to our customers to take advantage of the cool, wet season that is upon us by adjusting their irrigation timers so that no outdoor watering occurs Monday through Friday through the end of April, 2016,” said Thomas Esqueda, Fresno’s director of public utilities.
City of Fresno fined 919 residents $41,355. Each was fined $45 for watering on incorrect days nor non-watering days, said Mark Standriff, Fresno city spokesman.
In the cooler months it will be tougher to get those higher percentage numbers.
Felicia Marcus, state Water Resources Control Board chairwoman
In Clovis, which has a 36 percent mandate from the state, water consumption was reduced by 23 percent.
“Last month was unseasonably warm and it’s normally the time when weather changes and usage drops,” said Luke Serpa, public utilities director for Clovis.
Clovis stopped issuing fines in October. The city issued about $762,000 in fines between June and September.
Cities falling short of the state’s water mandates risk fines of $500 a day. Suppliers that violate a state cease and desist order could face fines of $10,000 a day. In October, the state announced fines for four Southern California water suppliers of $61,000 each for being significantly below the state’s mandates.
Both Clovis and Fresno have gone to one day of watering per week, but “if you’re not running your sprinklers, the outside water use doesn’t offer you the larger opportunity for savings,” Serpa said.
In a teleconference at the end of October, Felicia Marcus, the state Water Resources Control Board’s chairwoman, said water savings are tougher to get during the winter months because 50 percent of water used during the state’s warmer months is for outdoor landscaping.
“In the cooler months it will be tougher to get those higher percentage numbers,” she said.