As temperatures race toward the triple digits, City Council members voted unanimously to reduce water conservation goals but maintain a twice-weekly watering restriction.
The Department of Utilities presented a plan to drop conservation goals from 28 percent over 2013 levels down to 10 percent and increase watering to three days a week but found little support from the council.
Instead, the council embraced an alternative suggestion from Councilman Jeff Harris that would keep the city’s water shortage level at stage two –acknowledging ongoing drought conditions – but lower the conservation target to 20 percent.
The health of the city’s trees was a topic of concern for many council members. Department of Utilities engineer Jim Peifer said that the city’s tree canopy has decreased by approximately 8 percent during the past few years, according to one analysis.
Harris said that reducing the conservation goal “means we can loosen up quite a bit of water in public spaces,” allowing for more watering in parks, and potentially allowing some fountains to return to functioning with recirculating water.
The city would also continue its rebate program for drought-tolerant landscaping.
“Climate change is real and we have to be very adaptable, and being able to be efficient with water usage is imperative,” Harris said in an earlier interview. “I really hate to think of (residents) backsliding to heavier water usage when we did so well.”