To further conserve water during the statewide drought, the City Council voted 3-0 to approve new restrictions for customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District on Tuesday, May 5.
The water district serves approximately 14,100 customers in Menlo Park. According to city staff members, they are collaborating with other water utilities that serve the city, such as Cal Water, to make sure the rules are consistent for all residents.
The newest restrictions:
■ Limit landscape watering to two days a week. Even addresses may water on Tuesdays and Fridays; odd addresses on Mondays and Thursdays. No watering is allowed between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
■ Require pool and spa covers and prohibit newly built pools from being filled with municipal water.
■ Prohibit new construction projects from installing "single pass cooling systems" that circulate water once before draining it, such as air conditioners.
The State Water Resources Control Board is proposing that the district reduce water use by 16 percent from 2013 levels. But the district has already achieved a 27 percent reduction, according to state data.
While the number is accurate, the 27 percent reduction is based on the amount the district purchased from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, said Public Works Director Jesse Quirion. The district's actual sales numbers show a 12 percent reduction from 2013 levels, he said.
Customers such as the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club will be allowed to water more than twice a week as long as they conserve the same amount of water by cutting back in other areas.
Club representative Robin Driscoll told the council during the May 5 meeting that the club expects to have reduced water consumption by 16 percent compared with the 2013 base rate by the end of this year. The club has installed drought-resistant turf, turned off 15 percent of its irrigation and is building a recycled water plant that should go online in January 2017, he said.
The recycled water plant will provide all turf irrigation, according to Mr. Driscoll, while the rest of the water needed will come from the Menlo Park Municipal Water District.
Council member Kirsten Keith described enforcement as the "elephant in the room."
According to Mr. Quirion, the city was receiving five to six reports a day prior May 5, and he expects that number to rise with the implementation of the new restrictions.
Violations can be reported by calling (650) 330-6750, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out an online complaint form. Complaints will be handled by the district's staff and code enforcement officers. So far the focus is on education rather than fines.
Mayor Catherine Carlton urged the city to start making it easier for residents to use the water they already have. The city "makes it as hard as humanly possible" to use rain barrels to collect water, she said, and doesn't allow gray water systems that could use water draining from showers and washing machines to nourish the yard.
"This upsets me a lot," she said. "... There's a push and pull to this; we're pulling, but not pushing on the other end."
Mr. Quirion said those alternatives will be considered as part of creating a master water management plan, which he expected to take about two years because of priorities assigned to other projects and staff workloads.
"Two years, that's just not OK," Mayor Carlton said. "We're in a drought."
Council members Ray Mueller and Rich Cline were unable to attend Tuesday night's meeting.