City Researching How To Implement Governor’s Drought Order

Glendora officials have begun drafting a plan in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order for water agencies across the state to drastically reduce their water consumption by next year.

Brown’s order came April 1 as he stood in a grassy field in the Sierra Nevadas, normally where there should be ample snow, and directed California’s Department of Water Resources to work with the state’s 411 urban water agencies to reduce consumption by 25 percent between now and February of 2016.

City officials and staff are woking to determine the cost and feasibility of replacing Glendora’s current landscaping and meeting other aspects of the Governor’s executive order.

“The drought and all of its many ramifications, pose serious questions for every city in California,” said Glendora Mayor Karen Davis. “The programs that we have already put in place have made a substantial difference, and have helped ‘prime the pump’ for further restrictions and conservation.”

This is the first such order of its kind in state history as California is into its fourth year of drought conditions. Brown’s announcement comes on the heels of the lowest snowpack measurements on record.

In a nutshell, the Governor’s order would:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments
  • Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models
  • Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use
  • Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Glendora had already reduced watering city grass to only two days a week under the California Emergency Drought Law.

Last year the Glendora Country Club removed 1.5 million square feet

Local water agencies would also be required to adjust rate structures to conservation pricing to help realize water rate reductions and discourage waste as a means to aid cities in enforcing the restrictions.

Water agencies would also to report monthly water usage and conservation and enforcement efforts and update standards for toilets, faucets and outdoor landscaping.

“This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” Brown said in a written statement. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

Last July, the city became infamous in the media after Glendora residents Michael Korte and Laura Whitney-Korte received a letter from the city’s code enforcement team regarding their brown and neglected lawn, a letter which stated “Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green.”

Davis said that the letters are not necessarily a response to brown lawns, but most often a neglected yard.

Now Glendora may end up tearing out public grass citywide instead of keeping it green.

The city has been under a Stage 1 Alert since 2009, requiring customers to reduce water consumption by 10 percent below their usage levels from the same billing period last year, prohibits water runoff under certain circumstances and prohibits water during certain hours, among other restrictions.

Glendora typically produces anywhere from 80 to 100 percent of the water consumed in the city, which it is able to do in the relatively cool weather. As temperatures rise, the city resorts to purchasing expensive water from outside sources, said Dave Davies, Director of Public Works.

“The severity of the summer weather will determine how much water we purchase,” Davies said.

Anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the water consumed in Glendora is used for landscaping, city officials said.

The city has been purchasing water for many years. Depending on the need, the city will purchase anywhere from 0 to 2,500 Acre Feet of water from outside sources, such as the Three Valleys Municipal Water District and the Covina Irrigating Company, at a cost from $450 to $1,000 per Acre Feet, depending on the source, tier and allocation plan, Davies said.

Glendora has been proactive in implementing water conservation programs and equipment to limit water consumption.

The city has available a Residential Turf Removal Program, providing incentives for residents to ditch water guzzling lawns in favor of drought resistant landscaping.

As of January, more than 100 applications for turf removal had been approved, with 217,000 square feet of turf allocated for removal. Approximately 121,000 square feet had already been removed at that time, said Jennifer Aguilar, management analyst.

Through its efforts, Glendora has achieved a reduction of just over 12 percent in water usage, a comparison between the three years prior to Stage 1 going into effect and the three year period after.

Historical Museum

The Community Services Department is replacing the lawn outside the Glendora Historical Society with drought-tolerant landscaping and improved irrigation equipment. Photo by Zak Bushey.

The Glendora Historical Society has had its lawn torn out recently ahead of a project by the Community Services Department to have drought resistant landscaping planted and a new dip irrigation system installed with equipment donated by a former resident, according to the April/May edition of Glendora Report.

The previous landscaping outside the Historical Society consumed 95,000 gallons of water per year.

The city also approved a plan back in November to replace the lawn outside the city nursery in favor of drought tolerant landscaping.

The city offers a Water Conservation Rebate Program, in which residents who purchase qualifying water efficient installations from a Glendora merchant may be able to receive rebates.

The Glendora Country Club had 25 acres of lawn replaced in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping, which would reportedly net a water reduction of 20 to 25 percent, country club officials said.

The Water Division has also made progress on the 12 capital improvement projects, with six in construction and four finished and two in the design phase. One of the projects involved the replacement of a leaking water main along Amelia Avenue and installing 2,000 linear feet of new water main near the Hicrest Reservoir.

“As we further digest the Governor’s order, it may necessitate further enforcement action. Sacramento and the Governor’s order in particular, may dictate additional enforcement,” Mayor Karen Davis said. “Ideally, we hope for voluntary compliance, but we will continue to monitor the guidelines that are passed on to us.”

Read the full text of Gov. Brown’s executive order.

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