MENLO PARK (KCBS) — The Menlo Park City Council approved an urgency ordinance Tuesday night will implement water conservation measures that are stricter than the state requirement affecting nearly 16,000 customers.
The new water rules will last for 45 days and mostly affects water users in the Sharon Heights and Belle Haven areas who are subject to the Menlo Park Municipal Water District.
Many residents, like Carolyn Dorsh, who attended the city council meeting said that they were taken by surprise by new water rules and that the call for an immediate 30 percent reduction of water use is too drastic.
“For the people that have been conserving, people who have been following what the guidelines have been all along, people that have taken their lawns out and really are doing the best they can conserving, how are they going to conserve 30 percent more?” Dorsh said.
But City Attorney Bill McClure said that the state was essentially forcing them to quickly implement their own emergency water ordinance which hasn’t been updated since the 1990s.
“We’re subject to significant penalties and fines per day if we don’t implement,” he said.
The council’s decision was prompted, Interim Public Works Director Jesse Quirion said, by Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order to increase water saving efforts amid one of California’s most severe droughts.
While the new urgency ordinance will only last for 45 days, it will likely be renewed as the staff creates new rules.
Under the conservation rules, large water users such as apartment complexes, schools and golf courses must follow a 45 percent mandatory reduction of water use.
The new water rules won’t affect customers served by the California Water Service Co. or O’Connor Tract Cooperative Water District, which have not yet mandated any conservation measures.
According to the Menlo Park government website, approximately 94 percent of city’s water is supplied from the Hetch Hetchy watershed with the remainder supplied by the Alameda watershed and more than 50 percent of residential water use is dedicated to landscaping.