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Our View: Cooperation needed during water crisis

Posted: August 3, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 3, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Our community has a big problem on its hands.

The drought that we are in is so severe that local water officials must come up with a strategy to force residents and businesses to cut down on their water use.

If their strategy doesn’t work and the drought continues for another year, things will get very painful, officials say.

They are proposing water reduction regulations that include a timetable for lawn watering — odd-numbered addresses get to water on certain days, and even-numbered addresses water on other days.

Each property, however, would only be able to water three days a week in the hot months and two days a week in the cooler months.

Under regulations handed down by the state to local water agencies, which have been called on to assume the role of enforcers, property owners would be fined if they don’t comply — up to $500 a day for hard-core scofflaws.

The enforcement challenges are numerous.

Hiring water cops to patrol the streets seems unlikely — and expensive. Enforcement may instead rely in pitting neighbor against neighbor.

That’s unacceptable. Our society is divisive enough without having neighbor spying on neighbor, ratting out some secret midnight Rain Bird action.

We encourage our valley’s water districts to come up with a less emotional and divisive way of enforcing water regulations, such as charging users more for going over a predetermined level of water usage set according to the type of property and number of occupants.

Those acceptable levels could appear on water-users’ bills.

But whatever the final set of regulations and enforcement methods turn out to be, we strongly urge everybody in the community to cooperate.

We are truly in this together.

We all need to reduce our water consumption by a lot. Homeowners need to make sure their sprinklers are working properly and their lawns are being watered as efficiently as possible.

We believe that homeowner associations need to become strong partners with the water districts in enforcing these water regulations — and if that means putting up with some brown patches in lawns, then so be it.

In addition, all governmental entities must be a model for efficient usage of water on public property.

The water districts must lead the way, but they need help and cooperation from everybody. This is a crisis, and we all need to operate in a crisis mode.

If we don’t, and the drought continues into next year, water officials assure us there will be draconian measures taken.



zra: Posted: August 3, 2014 10:37 a.m.

How about we don't build anymore new structures until we can provide sufficient water resources to support them?

How about we start talking about desalination plants on the fast track?

How about we use an economic model that has worked for 200 years? Supply and demand. If a scarce resource exists we raise the price, and continue to raise it until demand starts to taper.

Those who can't afford the increase can move. --edited.

BrianBaker: Posted: August 3, 2014 10:58 a.m.

Here's a problem with the "emergency plan" as proposed. There are some of us who have already been practicing sound water conservation practices as a matter of course. How are we supposed to meet the arbitrarily mandated goal of further reducing our usage by another 20%?

On your monthly bill from Valencia Water Company there's a pictograph of your entire year's water usage, including a graph line of your monthly allocation. Using myself as an example, I already use less than my allocation, by a very safe margin.

I have absolutely no idea what I can possibly do to cut my usage by another 20%.

zra: Posted: August 3, 2014 11:33 a.m.

These restrictions dont really work that well. Some people live in condos and have no lawn to water, but they might enjoy taking really long showers. Others might have 500 plants in their homes that need to be watered. Some people might have a leak that they don't know about. I like to wash out my garage every once in a while. Lots of possibilities, and the only way to really cause people to reconsider their priorities is to charge more for the resource.

The problem is that the above, for the most part, are not visible, and politicians love visibility.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: August 4, 2014 6:19 a.m.

During the last drought, the local water agencies and districts went to Los Angeles County, and the City of Santa Clarita to request water use restriction ordinances. Both governments agreed, and placed water restriction ordinances "on the books" that remain in effect to this day.

Only enforcement of these laws was suspended. This was partly because water agencies have no police forces.

Love to see a story about the status of these dormant laws.

cj64: Posted: August 4, 2014 11:42 a.m.

We all need to conserve water so Newhall Land and Farm's 21,000 new homes will have water. The additional 60,000 people living there will need water for their showers, baths, lawns and pools.
Where is the water for their needs?

Phenics: Posted: August 4, 2014 4:27 p.m.

zra is right on the money. I wrote Jim Holt about this last week. The watering time table is not practical and I suggested a moratorium on building. I mentioned the how the unseen water usage is far more impactful than the time we have our sprinklers set to water our lawn each day. There are a massive amount of units coming online off Golden Valley, continuing the Villa Metro in addition to all the other developments. Each one of those families that comes up here will need a lot more water than my lawn. Nothing against the families since they are just like me wanting to live in a nice area but responsible growth is the answer. If we don't have enough for everyone we need to stop the invitations. All that said, at least what the Signal is proposing makes much more logical sense. The other thing I noted (credit to wife) about the silly watering schedule the water officials propose was supposing we water double on the permitted days, then the net effect of water savings is actually negligible if any (then factor in the midnight Rain Birds as well). Over building is a major contributor that is not addressed - I call it the obvious secret developers want to keep under wraps. Hopefully they'll go in a better direction with this.

MarkD: Posted: August 12, 2014 10:34 p.m.

I agree that the proposal to use time-table watering restrictions to solve the water shortage would be divisive and ineffective. Residents would probably over water during their allotted time which would be even less efficient than now. I think it is time for the good people of Santa Clarita to step back and acknowledge that we live in a desert chaparral environment. WE CAN NOT SUSTAIN OUR LAWNS. THEY HAVE TO GO. We should keep lawn areas that serve a purpose like playgrounds and golf courses but non-function turf has got to go. These non-functional areas should be converted to less water intensive landscape motifs. This means an aesthetic mind shift to plant with California natives and other drought tolerant plants. The HOA rules forcing homeowners to maintain front lawns need to be repealed. The HOA’s should be proactive and work with homeowners to develop alternatives. For those interested, a great resource for native gardening is the Theodore Payne Foundation located over the hill in Sun Valley. They have classes and a nursery. Many of their plants are suitable for our unique climate. For some inspiration, take a hike in Placerita Canyon near Canyon Country and what some of these plants look like.

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