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City braces for 20 percent state mandated water cutbacks

OCEANSIDE – Oceanside is making plans to cutback on city water use by an expected 20 percent mandate. Ordered water cutbacks are scheduled to be adopted by the State Water Resource Control Board in May in response to California’s level II drought.

Jason Dafforn, city interim water utilities director, shared increased measures the city will take to reduce water use at the City Council meeting April 22.

Added water conservation measures include working with top water users, policing home and business irrigation runoff, and keeping the Civic Center fountain shut off.

Top water users the city will help to use less water include golf courses, homeowner associations, and school districts. Landscaping tips, turf removal, and water conservation programs and rebates will be shared with high water users.

“We’ll help any way we can,” Dafforn said.

The city will also evaluate landscaping and watering at city parks and find where reductions can be made.

Another measure that will be put in place is imposing fines for excess irrigation runoff. Fines will start at $100 for the second warning and climb to $1,000 by the fifth warning. Dafforn said homeowners and businesses usually comply following the first fine. Many make repairs, adjust irrigation timing, and stop runoffs after the initial warning.

Additionally the Civic Center fountain, which just underwent repairs, will not be refilled until drought conditions improve. Dafforn said keeping the fountain off would serve as a good example of water conservation.

“Once we’re out of the drought we’ll put it back on line,” Dafforn said.

The fountain has had a chain link construction fence around it during repairs that began in December 2014. Once repairs are completed a decorative fence will be installed to protect the fountain’s approximate $350,000 facelift, that includes new tiles, electrical, and plaster work.

Further measures may include increasing water rates 20 to 30 percent. Dafforn said city staff is waiting on the final word from the State Water Resource Control Board before going forward with rate increases.

The state water board is scheduled to adopt mandates the first week in May that will go into effect in June.

Mandated city cutbacks will be based on the city’s baseline water use in 2013.

Oceanside and other cities have asked the board to consider additional factors such as how much precipitation the area receives, which effects irrigation, and previous water conservation measures.

Oceanside has already cut back its water use by 27 percent since enacting conservation efforts in 1990, and 17 percent in the past seven years.

Dafforn said additional cutbacks will be challenging, but the city will take measures to reduce its water use during the drought with or without a mandate.