Merced Adds New Water Advisory committee

Posted in: Crisis Response, Drought, United States Water News, Water Conservation, Water Crisis
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Water sprays from a sprinkler head at Lake Yosemite near UC Merced in March. Photo Credit: Andrew Kuhn.

Article courtesy of Thaddeus Miller | May 11, 2015 | Merced Sun Star | Shared as educational material

With even deeper water reductions hanging over the city’s head, Merced City Council has designed a water advisory committee to look at water usage and conservation in Merced during the state’s historic drought.

The council voted unanimously this month to make the committee an advisory body, which means it is not subject to the Brown Act. Advisory committee meetings are less formal than other meetings and can operate with fewer restrictions, but are open to the public.

“The dialogue is more free flowing, and we’re able to get more information,” said Josh Pedrozo, a member of the new committee.

Councilmen Tony Dossetti and Mike Murphy are also members, according to city records. It also includes a number of city employees and Merced residents.

The new committee essentially will exist to advise City Council on ways to conserve water.

Merced has reduced water use by an average of about 10 percent to 12 percent since new water restrictions were instituted about a year ago, according to city staff.

According to Merced city records, homes without meters use the most water, making up about 45 percent of all water used in the city. Homes with meters make up about 15 percent of the city’s water use, followed by apartment complexes and commercial sites – each of which uses 12 percent.

The state’s overall savings since last summer was about 9 percent.

The State Water Resources Control Board last week adopted a regulation requiring a 25 percent reduction across California, which is in accordance with a mandate from Gov. Jerry Brown.

“This is the drought of the century, with greater impact than anything our parents and grandparents experienced, and we have to act accordingly,” board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in a statement.

But the board is looking at deeper cuts in communities like Merced that haven’t shown satisfactory reduction in water use. A survey of local water departments released by the board last week shows water use fell less than 4 percent in March compared with the same month in 2013.

The numbers were mixed for Northern San Joaquin Valley cities.

The water board reported Modesto increased its water use by 8 percent in March compared with March 2013, Ceres by 11 percent and Livingston by 1 percent. The board said Merced (15 percent), Atwater (46 percent) and Ripon (21 percent) reduced their consumption during the same time period.

The water board began considering new regulations to enhance savings. Modesto, Merced, Oakdale, Ripon and Atwater face the biggest reduction of 36 percent. Riverbank, Turlock and Livingston face 32 percent reductions and Ceres is looking at a 28 percent cut.

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