Camarillo City Council: Water Conservation Ordinance Introduced

By Logan McFadden

The Camarillo City Council met on October 14, click 2015. Tom Fox, Public Works Director, discussed Camarillo’s long term sustainable water conservation plan and gave a presentation incorporating the plan as presented at the Camarillo Public Library on October 5th HERE. Camarillo launched the long term plan ten years ago.

The plan includes four core elements:
1) Water Conservation
2) Recycled water – 1st phase started in 2005
3) Water Desalter Plant – Pilot study completed in 2007. Fully operational by the end of 2017
4) No new water supply to meet the demand from new customers/developers

The area served by the City water agency is currently in a Stage 2 water alert. The water reduction mandate is 20% of total usage in 2013. By comparison a Stage 1 alert requires a 10% reduction. Stage 3 requires a 30% reduction and Stage 4 requires 40-50% reduction.

New hook ups to City water will be managed by the City’s proposed water credit program. When water rights attached to the land under development fall short of the water needed to supply the new residential/commercial development, the developer will be required to pay a fee for each new unit to fund the City’s rebate program. Existing customers will be incentivized via the rebate program to replace landscape with drought tolerant plants and artificial lawns, install low flow fixtures, and purchase water efficient appliances. It is anticipated that water saved by existing customers will offset the increased water usage to supply the new development. Based upon new developments in the pipeline, the City will have funds to support a “generous” rebate program. The City’s rebate program will be coordinated with the Metropolitan Water District’s rebate program to an amount not to exceed the actual cost of new water conservation by an existing customer. The water credit program will be evaluated in April 2016 and potentially adjusted based on Governor Brown’s water conservation target set when the current temporary Executive Order expires in February 2016.

Following the presentation, Mayor Bill Little opened the Public Hearing. The swimming pool and spa industry sought clarification of the impact of the new ordinance. The new ordinance will not change any existing pool or spa permit requirements.

Matt Lorimer, a Camarillo resident, demanded that the City stop new development given the drought. He specifically singled out the Springville development. Mr. Lorimer feels that the Council is “deceiving the public” and has a “don’t worry about it” attitude. His main objective is to prevent the imposition of a Stage 3 or 4 Water Alert, thereby penalizing existing residents and businesses to allow for new developments. He closed by saying the Council is turning the City into another San Fernando Valley.

The Public Hearing has been continued to the City Council meeting to be held on October 28th. The Council will then vote on the proposed Ordinance amending Municipal Code Chapter 14.12 Water Conservation Measures.

The Council next considered an Ordinance amending Chapter 16.04 of the Camarillo Municipal Code pertaining to water conservation fixtures and fittings. The Ordinance requires new residential and commercial standards. Bathroom remodels are also subject to the new standards if old faucets and fixtures are replaced.

Residential standards require installation of dual flush toilets ($50), sensors on bathroom faucets ($150), and an on demand recirculating hot water system ($500). Non-residential standards require installation of 1.25 GPF urinals ($50), metered lavatory faucets (.25 gallon per use, $75), and point of use hot water heater for lavatories ($200). The new residential standards are projected to save 20,000 gallons of water per year. Non-residential standards are projected to save 80,000 gallons of water per year (per 100 employees).

The Council will hear a second reading of the amended Ordinance at the Council meeting on October 28th. If adopted, the new standards will go into effect immediately.

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Logan McFadden is a Citizensjournal.us city reporter and a recently retired banker, residing in Camarillo. He volunteers for the Heritage Action Sentinel team and serves as the AMAC Delegate to the 26th Congressional District.

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