With California in its fourth year of drought and Governor Jerry Brown putting out an executive order calling for cutbacks of 20 percent, the City of Oakdale announced that their figures show that the city and its residents have nearly met that mark based on 2013 figures.
In January, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency. Since then, state water officials say that reservoirs, rainfall totals and the snowpack remain critically low with current readings show the snow packs at a record low.
Earlier this month, Brown imposed mandatory water restrictions for the first time on residents, businesses and farms, ordering cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce usage.
According to the State Water Resources Control Board, for the larger cities in Stanislaus County showing the difference between 2013 and 2014, Oakdale has reduced its usage by 19.7 percent from 2013 to 2014.
“As of February 2015, we are at 42 percent better with water conservation than the base year of 2013,” said Oakdale Director of Public Services, Thom Clark. “Oakdale residents are doing a great job with conserving water.”
Clark attributes the reductions to a number of different actions by the city and community.
The city has cracked down on water trucks and developers taking water from hydrants and reduced park watering by more than 20 percent.
“We maintain 143 acres of parkland, so that’s a lot of water.” Clark pointed out.
With Water Smart software, the city has instituted a program to send letters to homeowners if there appears to be a leak in their system and are sending out monthly home water reports which compare a home’s usage with a similar sized home with a similar sized yard and the same number of people in the home.
The same Water Smart software that generates the home water reports, allows the Water Department to see data such as the largest users.
“Usually the high users have leaks they did not know about,” said Clark. “For instance, one home recently was using 2,800 gallons per day. We showed them where the leak was and when they fixed it, they reduced their usage to 160 gallons per day.”
Clark added the city does issue warning notices to water violators and fine them if they have to, but have not issued many fines.
“Warnings are usually enough,” Clark said.
Going forward, the city is working on an Urban Water Management Plan and an updated Water Master Plan that will both have strong conservation elements in them, according to Clark, and will be proposing having a new well drilled on Greger Street.
“We believe we can grow for another few decades without drilling another well if conservation becomes a way of life for Oakdale citizens,” Clark said, “not something we all just do in a drought.”