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Water rationing on agenda

Officials will discuss whether to mandate practices that would curb lawn watering, hosing driveways and more.

May 16, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — The City Council on Tuesday will bring back six stages of proposed mandatory water restrictions for consideration, two weeks after Councilman David Gordon led a successful effort to table the measure to vet possible legal implications.

City officials this week determined that the proposed water rationing measures, which would mandate varying degrees of water restrictions according to drought conditions, are exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires agencies to perform environmental-impact studies.

Modifications to the current sustainable water use ordinance, approved in April 2008, would expand it from four to six stages, impose irrigation timetables, prohibit residents from hosing down driveways, patios and sidewalks and ban restaurants, hotels, motels, cafes and cafeterias from serving water unless requested by customers.

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The two-week delay gives council members the opportunity to again consider specific measures and provides a forum for the public to address city officials on the proposed revisions. The six-stages piggyback on the original ordinance and are modeled after a set of guidelines from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, officials said.

Despite improved reservoir levels across the state and a 6.3% increase in conservation citywide, pumping restrictions have dramatically reduced Burbank Water and Power’s ability to recharge its reserves, said Bill Mace, assistant general manager for water systems.

Suppliers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region face constrained pumping ability in light of recent federal environmental court decisions protecting native fish species, which in turn have cut into MWD’s annual water allotment from the State Water Project.

“We’re going to have to adopt a plan, whether it’s Sacramento requiring us to cut usage or our own efforts to conserve,” Vice Mayor Anja Reinke said. “I don’t think we should address the issues when they’re hitting us in the face.”

Although Burbank has not proclaimed an emergency, declarations from the state urge cities to voluntarily cut their usage by 20%. Pending state legislation would make that mandatory by 2020.

Under Burbank Water and Power’s proposed water use ordinance, each of the six stages builds on the previous stage in terms of the restrictions. The city utility must get council approval before shifting stages.

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