City declares water emergency, 8 percent use reduction

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The Arcata City Council last night tightened restrictions on water use, introducing an emergency ordinance pursuant to a state mandate over the drought-related water shortage in California. The ordinance will likely be adopted by the council and would normally go into effect June 17, but because of the statewide emergency situation, the restrictions are in effect immediately.

While the state goal is 25 percent, since Arcata residents use fewer than 65 gallons per day of water – 47, to be exact – the city must reduce water usage by just 8 percent. That works out to something like 3 ½ gallons per resident per day. The restriction applies to both individual residents and the city. For its part, the city will reduce vehicle washing and selected landscaping-related irrigation, and will increase leak detection and greywater capturing efforts.

Restrictions for citizens include watering sidewalks and driveways with excessive runoff, outside watering during or up to 48 hours after “measurable” rainfall, watering lawns and landscaping, watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., use of potable water in fountains, automatic service of water in restaurants and more.

Environmental Services Director Mark Andre encouraged citizens to implement greywater capturing techniques, like taking a bucket into the shower and using that water on plants. He said the city will provide outreach and education to help citizens achieve the water use reductions.

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  1. Kevpod said:

    “just goes into the ocean” – yes, via habitat-nourishing waterways. Human consumption isn’t the only thing that the finite water supply is used for.
    Hopefully we can extend this diminishing resource with thoughtful conservation, and not waste it on decorative landscaping.

  2. Fred Mangels said:

    Your very own government estimates have said we have enough water at current consumption rates to last three or four years. That’s without the 50 million gallon per day surplus.

    You’re suggesting we don’t water plants or lawns, even though we have plenty of water to do so just as we always have. Water we don’t use just goes into the ocean. Water we do use is either treated and sent back to the ocean, or is evaporated and ends up coming back as precipitation.

    A win- win situation as I see it. Again, that’s for those of us taking water out of the Mad River. Not those on wells or the Eel.

  3. Kevpod said:

    One working definition might be using up the current supply on inessentials without knowing whether there will be enough next year and beyond.

  4. Kevpod said:

    If scarily-named ingredients concern you, consider that “organic” farmers use copious amounts of dihydrogen monoxide on their crops – all of them do this.
    That substance has been linked to everything cancer to climate change.

  5. Fred Mangels said:

    Our water use up here doesn’t affect SoCal’s use of water one way or the other since none of it goes down there. At least none of the Mad River water.

    Eel River, perhaps, but only to Mendocino and Sonoma Counties via the Potter Valley Dam diversion, or however that works.

    Then, you’ll have to explain what “excessive” use of water is.

  6. Kevpod said:

    Logically though, how would continuing our excessive use of water address SoCal’s excessive use of water?

  7. WhoAreThesePeople? said:

    I agree that the common California practice of watering your lawn in a rainstorm is a waste of water. But watering plants? I’ve seen what SoCal does with our water! Should we really let our food take the hit so the City of Oceanside can continue watering the dirt under bridges to keep the homeless out? Where the fuck are your priorities?

  8. WhoAreThesePeople? said:

    Take a bucket into the shower? Mr. Andre, have you read the ingredients list on the back of your shampoo bottle lately? That may be acceptable in YOUR food, but most Humboldt gardeners use organic methods. Try again.

    Will ARF still be allowed to wash their fire trucks twice a day?

  9. Kevin Hoover said:

    Least convincing argument for wasting water ever.

  10. Fred Mangels said:

    So let’s say 10,000 Eureka residents all cut back their use of water by 5 gallons a day. Where does the water go that they didn’t use? 50,000 more gallons down the Mad River to the ocean. Once it’s in the ocean, it’s not usable for us, without waiting for it to come back as rain, or expensive desalination.

    And the water we do use isn’t wasted to begin with. It either goes back into the ocean after being treated, or evaporates, where it goes back into the atmosphere and becomes rain again. It doesn’t just disappear forever because I watered some plants with it.

    There’s no point in being hysterical about water conservation, at least in the greater Eureka area. In places inland and to the south, where they rely on the Eel, or well water, there certainly is reason for watching water use.

  11. Kevin Hoover said:

    That makes a lot of sense, if by a lot of sense I mean none whatsoever.

  12. Fred Mangels said:

    I know that, but state law isn’t always based on common sense. We don’t have a water problem here, at least those of us who get our water from the Mad River/Ruth Lake.

    Any water we don’t use just ends up in the ocean where we have to wait for it to come back as rain or snow. State law should recognize that, but it doesn’t. It’s not quite a one- size- fits- all approach, but it’s close.

  13. Kevin Hoover said:

    Fred, try reading the first sentence of the story. State law requires the reductions.

  14. Fred Mangels said:

    I suspect the last sentence is right, or possibly worse. It could be we’re expected to “conserve” since it’s politically correct, not because there is any real need to.

  15. dmf said:

    is there a punitive aspect to this declaration of emergency? Will individuals/businesses have their water usage rates compared to previous years with attendant fines Or is this just a gentle reminder that while Ruth Lake is full to capacity (I think), we join in the pain of our fellow Californians?

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