Livingston has trimmed its water consumption by 18 percent compared to 2013, but city leaders are considering scaling back even further.
The City Council on Tuesday considered a resolution that would reduce outdoor watering from three days per week to two, ban washing cars and prohibit irrigating outdoors within 48 hours of a storm.
It would also restrict excessive water runoff onto the pavement or sidewalks and require property owners to fix water leaks.
The council did not pass the resolution Tuesday, instead voting 3-0 to bring it back with a few changes. Councilmen Arturo Sicairos and David Mendoza were absent Tuesday.
The main revision came from Livingston Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who suggested allowing car washing, as long as residents use an automatic shut-off valve as mandated in the current ordinance.
He said banning car washing is inconvenient and creates a hardship for residents.
“It can also be a safety hazard,” Samra told the council, referring to dirty windshields. “We all live in the Valley – drive one time to Los Banos and you’re done.”
City Engineer Mario Gouveia said the resolution is the first of several mandatory measures the city will take to conserve water. The effort was prompted by Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order on April 1 to reduce water consumption by 25 percent.
Although Gouveia said the city is already making strides in saving water, limiting watering days will help the city reach its 25 percent target. The cities of Fresno and Merced already restrict watering to two days, he said.
The council members also agreed to place multilanguage notices in residents’ water bills about conservation.
When it comes to enforcing the new water rules, Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez suggested using the city’s new electronic ticketing system.
“It can identify multiple violations and begin to assign fines and warnings,” Chavez said. The city has four hand-held ticketing devices, the chief said, but three of them can be used for this purpose.
In other business Tuesday, the City Council approved purchasing body cameras and a new in-car video system for the Police Department. The total cost of the equipment is $61,000, according to city documents.
City officials explored the idea of body cameras for nearly six months, saying they provide accountability and protect both the public and police officers. Samra, a big supporter of the devices, said they act as an “independent witness” – especially when residents file complaints against officers.
“Council hears from residents, but sometimes they don’t tell you the whole story,” Samra said. “This keeps everyone straight and narrow.”
The funding for the cameras will be split – $20,000 from the police impact fee fund and $40,000 under a law enforcement grant fund. No general funds will be used for the purchase, city documents show.
Chavez said most Livingston police officers and their unions support the idea. Chavez, who spent the majority of his career at the San Jose Police Department, said it is only a matter of time before all police departments have body cameras.
“It puts everyone on notice,” the chief told the council. “Complaints were reduced at agencies that implemented this.”