Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner City Council approved a resolution revising the city’s water conservation plan and an ordinance revising the water conservation policy during a meeting May 20.
In the revised water conservation policy, the council now empowers the city administrator and the utilities director as the officials authorized to implement measures triggered by a declaration of a water shortage emergency.
The previous policy gave those powers to the mayor.
The new policy requires officials to ask water consumers to employ voluntary conservation measures in the event of a shortage and empowers them to implement certain mandatory measures.
The new policy follows a challenging year for Gardner residents, including the imposition of mandatory usage restrictions last summer.
On July 17 2018, the council issued mandatory water restrictions saying the Hillsdale Water Treatment Facility had operated at more than ninety (90) percent capacity for more than five consecutive days, and the city had reached Water Warning Stage as part of the Water Conservation Plan.
According to the new policy, water consumers who violate usage rules during an emergency risk having their water connection shut off and may face prosecution at the municipal court.
Violators will face a $100 fine for the first conviction and $200 for second and subsequent violations. They may also serve a jail term not to exceed 30 days.
The revised water conservation plan sets a target of per capita water use of 100 gallons per day.
According to Gonz Garcia, utilities director, the city’s 2018 per capita use was 81 gallons and includes water sold to residential and commercial customers including any water loss from leaks.
The new plan includes education, management and regulatory components including outreach through the city website and social media accounts.
The management component includes the new water rates that will go into effect in January 2020, the implementation of a smart meter system to measure real time water usage and the evaluation of drought resistant landscapes in future development projects.
“The plan establishes a drought contingency which would address short term water shortage problems through a series of more restrictive stages based on conditions,” said Garcia adding that the new plan will base lawn water restrictions based on two zones- north and south of Main Street.
In other business:
-The city appointed Sharon Rose as the interim city clerk. Council president Lee Moore administered the oath of office.
-the council authorized the city administrator to enter into a pole attachment agreement with Charter communications, a telecommunications firm. In the agreement, Charter communications will pay the city an annual $17.95 fee per pole