UPDATED: GSW answers drought concerns

Golden State Water Company held a public meeting Thursday, May 28, to help Claremont customers better understand the mandatory water use restrictions and to offer information on conservation rebates and programs.

It was standing room only at El Roble Intermediate School’s auditorium with Claremont customers seeking answers on how to reduce water usage in a community that, as many of them see it, already makes a concerted effort to conserve.

Foothill District Manager Ben Lewis stood before nearly 300 Claremont customers, answering audience questions and offering a presentation on the mandatory conservation and rationing guidelines that will likely go into effect in early June.

“Once the Staged Mandatory Water and Conservation Rationing plan has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the initial stage will be implemented,” Mr. Lewis said.

While the state has set a 32 percent reduction in water for the city of Claremont, none of the stage restrictions presented by Mr. Lewis have yet been implemented. Golden State assured customers they will receive advanced notice of the added conservation measures.

Read more on the drought in Claremont: https://www.claremont-courier.com/articles/news/t15000-water

Water restrictions imposed by the city of Claremont on May 11—which include limiting irrigation of lawns, landscaping and vegetation to 15 minutes, two days a week—mirror those presented by Mr. Lewis, who emphasized that outdoor watering will be the biggest challenge.

Residents watering in a manner that causes runoff or excessive water to flow onto adjoining hardscape or surfaces will be subject to citations and fines.

“The goal is not to fine customers,” Mr. Lewis expressed. “The goal is to educate customers in terms of how to use water wisely outside the home.”

Read more about the city’s water restrictions: https://www.claremont-courier.com/articles/news/t15311-water

According to a handout entitled Schedule 14.1 provided by Golden State, Claremont customers are currently limited to watering two days per week between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Watering days will be assigned when the mandatory conservation and rationing plan is set into place. For now, customers are encouraged to limit watering to no more than 15 minutes per day, ensuring there is no water runoff onto adjacent properties, sidewalks and streets.

 “If you have the drip or the microspray, you’re fine,” Mr. Lewis explained. “But if you have the pop-up nozzle that sprays water, those are the ones that the state is trying to have people remove because those are inefficient in terms of water usage.”

For every day the city is not in compliance in meeting that 32 percent goal, Golden State can be fined $10,000 per day on a monthly basis. It’s a cost that will be passed on to customers on their bill in the form of a surcharge to help offset the cost to Golden State.

 “In order for us to avoid the penalties, we need to change our behavior to mirror what we do in the winter time,” explained Mr. Lewis. “I know a lot of people say it’s difficult but in order for us to meet this 32 percent goal, that’s what we’re going to have to do. That’s our greatest opportunity.”

Read more on a water-wise garden: https://www.claremont-courier.com/articles/news/t15071-sage

Failure to comply with the restrictions outlined in the Staged Mandatory Water Conservation and Rationing plan may result in Golden State installing a flow restrictor device along with adding associated fees for installation and removal. Flow restrictors would remain in place for a minimum of seven days

 “Flow restrictors are very rare. I’ve never seen one,” Mr. Lewis shared. “Most customers make that change and move forward. The goal is to not get there. What we want to do is show the state that we’ve made every effort we can. If we hit August or September and the state comes back and says we’re not hitting that number, then we’ll move to Stage 2.”

There are four stages to the Mandatory Water Conservation and Rationing Plan, with allocations and surcharges applied to each customer’s bill with each ascending step.

 “The difference with Stage 2, 3 and 4 is, you will see allocations based on water usage,” Mr. Lewis told the crowd. “Your allocations will be based on the 2013 [usage numbers], minus the 32 percent.”

For those who didn’t live at their current property in 2013, the baseline/allocation will be based on the usage of the customers who lived at the property at that time. However, no allocation will be less than 8 ccf per monthly billing period for residential customers (16 ccf per bi-monthly).

For properties that were not built in 2013, the baseline/allocation will be determined using a local average for that period in 2013.

Read the full story in the next edition of the COURIER.

—Angela Bailey




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