Almanac

News - July 30, 2014

Menlo Park plans for water restrictions

by Sandy Brundage

With more than half of California experiencing "extreme drought," Menlo Park's greenery will look thirstier than ever starting Sept. 1, once the state gives the expected final approval to mandated water restrictions.

The new restrictions would forbid washing hard surfaces such as sidewalks; watering outdoor landscapes to the extent that runoff occurs; hosing off vehicles unless the hose has an automatic shut-off nozzle; and using potable water in fountains unless the water is recirculated.

Urban water agencies would also have to implement water shortage contingency plans, according to the state water board. Menlo Park receives water from the California Water Services Company and the Menlo Park Municipal Water District.

The city of Menlo Park has already asked residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 10 percent, and is now preparing for the mandated restrictions and then some, said interim Public Works Director Jesse Quirion.

"We anticipate incorporating all of the state's water restrictions at a minimum and we may consider a few additional water restrictions to continue doing our part in Menlo Park," Mr. Quirion said.

The changes are also affecting city-owned properties. As some observers noted, the sprinklers at the Civic Center often leave puddles on the sidewalks — something Mr. Quirion said has now been addressed by reducing watering schedules and the amount of water used.

Violations of the water restrictions will carry stiff penalties — up to $500 per day for residents, and up to $10,000 per day for water agencies.

"It is our understanding that each city will be responsible for the resident enforcement, but we have not yet confirmed what the penalty structure is," Mr. Quirion said.

The new reduction plan will be presented to the City Council on Aug. 19 to bring everyone up to date, but its approval is not required to enact the changes.

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