Mount Shasta City Council talks focus on water conservation

Lauren Steinheimer
Meadow Fitton gave an update on the Water Talks program during Monday night’s Mount Shasta City Council meeting.

Water conservation was discussed extensively during Mount Shasta City Council’s the April 27 regular meeting.

A report from the city’s water conservation committee, addressing regulations and strategies for decreasing water use in accordance with Governor Brown’s executive order, was presented by city manager Paul Eckert because public works director Rod Bryan did not attend.

A resolution to adopt the water conservation and reduction strategy presented at the meeting passed unanimously.

Two special presentations were given: Meadow Fitton gave an update on the Water Talks program, and Tuli Potts and Justi Hansen spoke about the 100 Miles of Trail Campaign and economic development plan for Mount Shasta.

A resolution was adopted that outlines the reimbursement rates for Mount Shasta fire department personnel and apparatus participating in statewide mutual aid during periods of severe wildfires.

The LED street light replacement project was discussed, and council members agreed to provide direction to city staff in favor of using the 54 watt, 3,000 Kelvin alternative, with backlight shields. This decision was made after soliciting public feedback based on example lights that were installed on Alma Street and Kenneth Way.

Citizens Roslyn McCoy and Doug Blackwell both praised the 3,000 Kelvin streetlights during the public comment period. “This has been a great journey,” said mayor Geoff Harkness about the street light replacement project. “I want to thank all that contributed.”

Water conservation

Mount Shasta’s ad hoc water conservation committee, which was formed by the city in response to Governor Brown’s executive order mandating statewide water reductions, met on April 16. The meeting resulted in the development of a multi-faceted strategy focused on aggressive water conservation policies, monitoring, enforcement and public education.

More information about the state-mandated water restrictions can be found at: http://ca.gov/drought/topstory/top-story-29.html

Eckert began the presentation with a graph displaying average monthly spring production over the past 20 years, which clearly showed that 2015 is starting off at an unprecedented low. Average spring production for January and February 2015 was already less than the 20 year record low established in June 2014.

“We’re at about 1,300 gallons of production right now,” Eckert explained, “on average, in the timeframe of May/June, we’re at 2,300. In past years, we’ve been at 3,500. In the next month or two months, it might be as low as 1,100 or 1,000.

“The city must take significant measures and apply efforts to urge our residents to conserve water,” he continued. The water reduction policy requires all major water users and residential customers to cut their water usage by 30%.

It includes restrictions on lawn sprinkler use and outlines prohibited uses of water, such as watering hard surfaces, allowing runoff onto streets and gutters, allowing leaks to go unrepaired, washing vehicles without using a self-closing shut-off nozzle, outdoor watering during rain, and serving water to customers in restaurants unless specifically requested.

All city departments are required to abide by the restrictions and reduce the watering of landscaped areas to twice per week.

The water reduction policy will go into effect June 1, 2015, and violators will be fined in accordance with the municipal code.

Citizen Melinda Wiley asked if this policy applies to both residents and businesses, and Eckert replied that it does. She inquired further about what agency would monitor Crystal Geyser, to which Eckert responded that, “I can’t answer except to say that certainly they’re in the county’s jurisdiction.”

Roslyn McCoy asked for details on the system for fining violators. “The municipal code gives us authority for a $100 fine. We’re going to give several warnings before we issue that fine, and it does become progressively higher,” Eckert answered.

Doug Blackwell recommended flexibility in the lawn watering regulations so that council could possibly change it in the future, saying “I think we might be better at 1 time 20 minutes per week than 3 times 10 minutes.” He continued to explain that deep watering would encourage the plant to send roots further into the ground.

Part of the city’s efforts to educate the public on the current state of extreme drought includes Cal Trout’s Water Talks program. In her presentation, Fitton reviewed the water conservation efforts implemented by the program, including a mailer that went out to all residents and is also available at city hall, a video which can be found on the city’s website http://www.ci.mt-shasta.ca.us/publicworks/conservation.php, and a series of free informational lectures on water conservation.

The next Water Talks event, focusing on groundwater, will be Thursday, April 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sisson Museum. Fitton reminded the public that all of the talks from now on have been relocated to the Sisson Museum. Mayor Harkness applauded Fitton and Cal Trout for the work they’ve done in organizing these free, educational presentations. More information on Water Talks can be found at http://www.californiawatertalks.org/

100 Miles of Trail

The 100 Miles of Trail campaign presentation given by Potts and Hansen included an overview of how expanding the current bike trails could promote health and economic development in Mount Shasta.

“The goal is to build 100 miles of professionally designed trails that are sustainable and multi-use in the next ten years,” said Hansen.

The trail campaign, organized by Bike Shasta and the Alternative Transportation Program, requires an agency sponsor in order to apply for a grant that would provide up to $1,000,000 in funding. Hansen said that she had spoken with city staff and the mayor, all of whom support this project.

Eckert and Harkness discussed the possibility of adding this item to the agenda for the May 11 city council meeting in order to make a decision prior to the June 1 grant application deadline.