Sonoma City Council will seek 15 percent water cut

The Sonoma City Council is expected to approve a resolution Monday night calling for a voluntary reduction of water use by 15 percent.

The voluntary reduction would follow declaration of a Stage 1 water shortage alert, as set forth in the city’s municipal code. Most of the other water contractors dependent on Russian River water from the Sonoma County Water Agency are reportedly making similar plans to take effect in February.

City water customers will be expected to take the following steps under a Stage 1 declaration:

• Apply irrigation water only during the evening and early morning hours to reduce evaporation losses.

• Inspect all irrigation systems, repair leaks, and adjust spray heads to provide optimum coverage and eliminate avoidable over-spray.

• For irrigation valves controlling water applied to lawns, vary the minutes of run-time consistent with fluctuations in weather.

• Reduce minutes of run-time for each irrigation cycle if water begins to run off to gutters and ditches before the irrigation cycle is completed.

• Become informed about, and adhere to, the city’s water waste prohibitions as established in the municipal code.

• Utilize water conservation rebate and other incentive programs to replace high water-use plumbing fixtures and appliances with water-efficient models. Utilize city information on using water efficiently, reading water meters, repairing ordinary leaks and applying water efficiently to landscaping.

One consequence of the reduced water consumption policy will be a prohibition on providing water from city hydrants to water users outside city limits.

Over the past month, according to city staff, commercial water tender trucks have been increasingly using city hydrant meters to haul water outside the city’s water service area. Given the water emergency, City Manager Carol Giovanatto implemented an emergency policy to prohibit the taking of water from city fire hydrants, except for fire prevention, firefighting, and essential maintenance. City staff are recommending that the City Council ratify that policy by resolution on Monday night.

Requests for construction water will be directed to the Sonoma County Valley Sanitation District which can supply recycled water.

A review of the voluntary 15 percent reduction will follow after precipitation patterns for the rest of the rainy season are clearer.

For water customers downstream of Lake Sonoma, the Sonoma County Water Agency has enough water in storage in Lake Sonoma to meet estimated demands through November.

But a shortfall at that point could trigger a mandatory 30 percent reduction in water use.

Also on the Monday council agenda will be an appeal of the Mission Square, mixed-use development at 165 E. Spain St., across from the city’s historic Mission.

The Planning Commission has already approved a use permit, site design, architectural review and parking exception for the project, that includes 3,514 square feet of office space, 14 apartments and other parking and improvements.

An environmental impact report was certified for the project in July 2013, and is not subject to appeal.

The council will convene at 6 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First St. W. The public is invited to attend.