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Stricter water limits take another step

Shift toward limiting residents’ irrigation of their lawns to 15 minutes a day 3 days a week awaits final OK.

September 02, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — Residents must limit outdoor irrigation to 15 minutes a day, per station, three days a week, according to restrictions approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The shift — which still awaits final approval — to the second stage of water restrictions would also limit irrigation to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but represented only a portion of what could have been a more restrictive policy. Consideration of the full second stage of the water conservation ordinance, which limits watering in the winter to one day per week, was postponed.

The new rationing measures were approved by the Burbank Water and Power Advisory Board as well as the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. They also come after Glendale moved to a three-day irrigation schedule and Crescenta Valley and Los Angeles limited their customers to just two days.

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Hand watering under the second stage is exempt, said Bill Mace, assistant general manager for Burbank Water and Power.

Water use was down 6% last year from the baseline average, but another 1.5% reduction is needed to avoid penalty rates imposed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for those cities that go over their reduced allotments.

The MWD allocation plan, which took effect July 1, reduces shipments of imported water to member agencies by 10%. Its board also voted to hike rates nearly 20% starting Tuesday.

The council Tuesday voted 3 to 1 in favor of the new rules, with Councilman David Gordon serving as the lone holdout. Councilman Jess Talamantes was absent.

Gordon seized on the arguments of public speakers at the hearing, characterizing the shift to Stage 2 as potentially leading to brown lawns, dying tree limbs and decreased property values. He also pointed to fines imposed on violators, which start at $100 and climb to $500 with each successive violation within a one-year period, as draconian.

“A lot of people now are scared,” Gordon said. “They’re literally scared. People are losing their homes, people are being foreclosed. People are in trouble.”

Mace assured the council that utility officials would stress public education over enforcement and fines.

“There’s not going to be an immediate enforcement in terms of fines,” he said. “You [would] really need to work at it.”

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