2008-11-03

City of Pasadena OUTLINE FOR COMPREHENSIVE WATER CONSERVATION PLAN AND SUSTAINABLE WATER SUPPLY, dated Nov 3, 2008.

A quick read through of the Pasadena Water Conservation Plan recaps their recent experience with water conservation: dismal. Voluntary 10% cutbacks didn't work, their infrastructure repair and maintenance fund is short, and water supplies are more stressed than ever.

The Pasadena City Council, in what might well be a stroke of good governance, rejected proposed schedules of fees and penalties for water wasters last month and instead asked for a more comprehensive water plan. The link I've provided is the outline of that plan. There's some good stuff in there. And some bad stuff.

Rate adjustments are the top of the list.

The goal of a water conservation rate design is to reward efficient users and those who have invested in conservation fixtures and appliances and provide appropriate price signals and incentives for others to conserve water. In addition, the price impacts of procuring incremental water supplies are borne by those causing the demand rather than the entire community.

The point is made, however, that water revenues are insufficient to support ongoing operations, and the capital improvement fund will not fully support the infrastructure improvements contemplated under the Water System Master Plan, along with added debt service costs associated with additional long term borrowing.

There's a lot of evaluating and assessing that is planned around the rate hikes. I find it surprising that they don't seem to have a better feel for their anticipated costs and for the water demand curve.


There's proposed legislation:

"Staff is proposing that a Sustainable Water Use Ordinance be developed to replace the Water Shortage Procedures Ordinance that was adopted in 1988. ... The ordinance would be designed such that obvious water waste activities - allowing water to run off landscapes, irrigating when it rains, etc., would be restricted at all times."

Do any other native plant fanciers use impending rain or lighter than expected rain as a signal to water? In a California native landscape, I've found that a supplemental water during, after, or before light rain makes the plants grow better. I don't feel that I'm wasteful at all because my net use of water for landscape purposes is much, much lower than those people who are feeding and watering green lawns year round. Still, I'd be a criminal in Pasadena under the language of the proposed new ordinance.

They propose changes in how they handle building and construction:

Building design standards to ensure efficient use of water and facilitate reuse of water (e.g., reclaimed water) - a Water Conserving Fixtures and Fittings ordinance would include new regulations for new construction, remodels, tenant improvements, additions, and alterations;
Landscape ordinance;
Gray Water ordinance, modeled after standards to be adopted by the state of California in early 2009;
Certification Program for green plumbers and landscaping professionals;
Construction Standards to include the study of permeable paving; and
Standards to manage water usage for new development.


Here's an interesting idea:

Should new development be allocated any low-cost (e.g., Tier I) water?