Grover Beach progressed to a Stage 2 water shortage emergency after almost a year of saving water in a Stage 1 shortage declaration.
Water customers will also get some respite, as the City Council unanimously decided at its May 9 meeting to pause penalties on water conservation violations.
"Council enacted a Stage 2 water shortage declaration, which includes a 10 percent mandatory reduction in water usage," City Manager Matthew Bronson told New Times. "However, the council chose not to enact penalties at this time out of sensitivity to the financial impact to residents but consider such penalties [in the future] if we have to enact a more stringent shortage declaration."
In the future, penalties for not complying with the Stage 2 declaration could include an initial notice of violation, after which the city would monitor the customer's water use on a monthly basis. A second violation would cost the customer $100.
The 10 percent mandatory reduction in residential water use sprung from the combination of depleting water levels at Lopez Lake along with diminished groundwater supply as a result of low rainfall. City staff recommended reducing turf irrigation at Mentone Basin and Costa Bella parks, with a possible closure if erosion is present. Additionally, staff suggested using non-potable water for grading operations on private development projects if such a water source was available within a reasonable distance.
While residential customers will receive a reprieve from penalties until a further water shortage phase is declared, some groups in Grover Beach are exempt from that declaration.
"When I brought the Urban Water Management Plan in December, one of the things staff noted was that the commercial use of water compared to residential was so small that even if all the commercial businesses complied and had a significant reduction in water use, it wasn't likely to have significant impact on overall system use," City Engineer Greg Ray said at the meeting. "You'd be penalizing businesses who really rely on that water to make a living, and they're not likely to use excessive water anyway because it costs against their bottom line. So we eliminated commercial and industrial from that requirement and focused it where the largest amount of water use is, which was with residential customers." Δ