The water restrictions in Livingston will tighten on Monday after a vote by the City Council this week to enact an “urgency” ordinance.
The council unanimously approved the new restrictions and the implementation date with two separate votes of 4-0. Councilman David Mendoza resigned on April 30, so the council has an open seat.
Unlike a typical ordinance, which takes two readings and a 30-day period to become law, an urgency ordinance becomes law immediately.
Under the new rules, residents will now be able to water only two days a week rather than three. The city had no time-of-day restrictions on sprinkling of outdoor plants and grass, but the new ordinance prohibits outdoor watering between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
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Those and other changes bring Livingston’s rules more in line with its neighbors – Atwater and Merced.
Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra said the changes were necessary to try to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order on April 1 to reduce water consumption by 25 percent.
He said he thinks the executive order to reduce water use hits harder in rural Valley towns than cooler coastal communities. “As unfair as we think it is, we still have to comply with the state orders,” he said.
The city sent out a special mailer in English, Spanish and Punjabi to inform citizens before the rule takes hold on Monday.
City Engineer Mario Gouveia said the city used 18 percent less water in 2014 than it did in 2013, but that the cutback wasn’t enough. “We have to get up to that 25 percent,” he said.
The new ordinance also prohibits runoff when watering a lawn, and it does not allow residents to apply water to sidewalks or driveways. Homeowners are also required to fix leaks or breaks within 48 hours, and car washing can only be done within the outdoor watering window.
While the city and others in the state try to adjust to the 25 percent mark, they may be in for more. The State Water Resources Control Board is looking at deeper water restrictions.
A survey of local water departments released by the board this week shows water use fell less than 4 percent in March compared with the same month in 2013. Overall savings has been only about 9 percent since last summer.
The numbers were mixed for Northern San Joaquin Valley cities.
The water board reported Modesto increased its water use by 8 percent in March compared with March 2013, Ceres by 11 percent and Livingston by 1 percent. The board said Merced (15 percent), Atwater (46 percent) and Ripon (21 percent) reduced their consumption during the same time period.
The water board on Tuesday began considering new regulations to enhance savings. Modesto, Merced, Oakdale, Ripon and Atwater face the biggest reduction of 36 percent. Riverbank, Turlock and Livingston face 32 percent reductions and Ceres is looking at a 28 percent cut.
For more on the new rules in Livingston, call the Public Works Department at (209) 394-8044.
Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@merced sunstar.com.