Is Arroyo Grande violating its own water conservation laws?

September 8, 2014

water patrolBy KAREN VELIE

Amid mandatory water conservation efforts, Arroyo Grande city staff has dumped 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of potable water down the gutter while telling the code enforcement officer to ignore the situation.

After deciding to paint one of the city’s water tanks, city staff elected to drain the last 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of drinking water by letting it flow into the gutter. Arroyo Grande Utilities Supervisor Shane Taylor said it was not feasible to try to capture the water.

“That is why there is a drain,” Taylor said. “That is how we empty water. It was only about 30,000 gallons.”

Several neighbors of the water tanks said they watched the water flow down the gutter for almost 20 hours. At least one neighbor reported the criminal offense to the police department.

“Here we are conserving water and they let it run down the street,” Ralph Bush said. “It was certainly a waste in this severe drought.”

Under an Arroyo Grande water conservation ordinance, excessive water running into the gutter is punishable as a misdemeanor.

However, the city code enforcement officers serve as police officers who also take direction from the public works department. An officer said he was ordered by an upper level city manager not to look into the issue, but declined to disclose who gave him the order.

Taylor responded to questions about the water discharge by saying that the city has a permit with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to dispose of potable water that allows the city to violate its own ordinance.

However, Michael Thomas, the water board’s assistant executive officer, said they do not give permits for potable water releases, though the board does for other types of water discharges, and that the water board does not exempt cities from violating municipal codes.

“If water meets water quality standards, it can be released,” Thomas said. “Our permits do not impact city municipal rules.”

On Aug. 26, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted to pay Verdin Marketing $70,000 to launch a public water conservation education program aimed at teaching residents and business owners how to conserve water.

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These bureaucrat mandates are not for the bureaucrat. Only the proletariat must apply or comply. Fifty percent of all Calif. H20 is sidelined by the crats for “environmental purposes”, or decoded in the progressive enigma machine, for manipulating the crisis of the day.

Seems like a perfect time for the fire department to practice tank or stream drafting. They could have used one of their water trucks to transport the water to an area that needs it more than the drainage system.

Good Point grayotter.

While I am a proponent of government fiscal responsibility, the cost of setting up and paying to man a pump, the additional liability exposure, and the neighbors bitching because of the additional traffic in their neighborhood generated by “free water” given to the general public probably does not out-way the waste of water in this particular case. (and how many people own their own water trucks/trailers)

I am sure however that had the City called some of the construction companies working in the area who are using water for compaction/dust control, there may have been some interest, but again running a water truck with diesel @ 4 bucks a gallon and paying the driver may be more expensive than just buying water from the City off a hydrant meter.

Its a hard call one way or the other, especially when the general public doesn’t know all of the nuances surrounding the project – like waiting to paint in inclement weather requires completely tenting the tank and the use of dehumidifiers and heaters etc. when using epoxy coatings etc. This usually adds 50 – 60% to the overall project costs…

Grayotters idea is a good one. When was the last time this area’s fire departments had an opportunity to practice surface water use in fire fighting? I asked my neighbor who has been with the AGFD for 10+ years and he said they have never actually performed a live training exercise involving stream drafting to his memory. They could have performed this at the Soto Sports Complex and discharged the water onto the lower field at the conclusion.

The larger problem, as I see it, is this:

“An officer said he was ordered by an upper level city manager not to look into the issue, but declined to disclose who gave him the order.”

When police are no longer transparent, they are no longer to be trusted. That officer should be reprimanded immediately. Does this “upper level city manager” have more rights than anyone else? What part of Public Servant do we not understand?

Hey, Officer Low Intelligence? If someone in your chain of command gives an order, then it needs to be public record or else any semblance of accountability goes out the window.

One benefit of taking a shorter shower is: maybe you can get in and out fast enough to avoid the water patrol getting a sneak peek while peering into your yard.