New water restrictions will take effect on Thursday, Aug. 28, for all customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District. Following the state's mandate, the City Council voted during its meeting last night to implement a plan that prohibits:
● Washing noncommercial vehicles unless the hose has an automatic shut-off valve.
● Filling new swimming pools.
● Running ornamental fountains unless the water is recirculated.
● Installing or expanding irrigation systems.
● Creating new water service connections without public works approval.
● Using potable water for dust control.
While the goal is to see a 30 percent reduction in water use, members of the public, as well as several council members, pointed out that requiring everyone to reduce water use by the same percentage could unfairly burden residents who already conserve water.
But the city is also working on revising its water contingency shortage plan and may opt for phased reduction targets instead of a set percentage, according to the staff. The public will be notified of any changes, which would take effect in 90 days.
City Attorney Bill McClure said the emphasis will be on enforcing penalties for wasteful use, rather than failures to meet the reduction target. The plan is "to use the kinder, gentler informative approach." Staff will also create an outreach plan to educate the public about the new water policies.
While residents also questioned the urgency of enacting the new restrictions, the city itself would face fines from the state had the council not implemented the restrictions by Thursday, Mr. McClure said.
The state mandate is in effect through the end of April, and may be extended if the drought continues, according to the city's staff.
These changes apply only to the estimated 14,100 customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District, although all agencies are required to implement restrictions. Customers of other water providers, such as Cal Water, may have slightly different regulations to follow.