STPUD’s water conservation program is based on faulty reasoning
In the early morning hours of July 11, about daybreak, I observed an unmarked vehicle parked adjacent to my driveway. Thinking very little of it, the vehicle remained for sometime and as I departed my home shortly thereafter, the vehicle contained, in the driver’s seat, a male occupant As I departed I could not help but to think that I should call the police or at least get a license plate number. I discovered later that this vehicle was occupied by a South Tahoe Public Utility District “water educator” who was awaiting my irrigation system to come on so that he could cite me for irrigating my landscape on the wrong day.
As I have learned over the years that this program has been adopted by STPUD, it is a program that has been tolerated by the residents and business community with “tongue in cheek.” When one analyzes the purpose and results, the average people with common sense must ask how this district can get away with this sort of absurd public policy all the while water rates increase annually in successive years. This happens to be one of the most regulated communities in the nation; unnecessary regulation is not acceptable.
Accompanying my citation was a brochure that described the pretense that STPUD has used for justifying this program. The MTBE issue has long become stale, since the district has placed several new high-producing wells on line. The district’s opinion that frequent irrigation is not necessary is nothing more than their theory, since soil types and weather conditions vary in the Lake Tahoe Basin and those factors bear significantly on the effects limited irrigation has on the landscape. The limitation of one hour per station on automatic systems is another example of how absurd this program is, since I would only water for 30 minutes or less per station if I watered daily; given the restriction, I will water for the full hour. Additionally, landscape irrigation is considered groundwater recharge, a process that returns water to the aquifer.
If this district is truly devoted to water conservation, a concept that is necessary in this day and age, it should be promoting conservation year-round and insist that leaking water facilities within the homes and businesses be maintained so that the sewage treatment system is not impacted, while conserving our water supply.
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I, along with others, have invested a great deal in landscaping and I will not sacrifice the maintenance and appearance of my property, which I take great pride in. The district’s position on landscaping, particularly on turf, is equally as disturbing in light of the fact that the Stateline area is graced with acres of turf that is irrigated daily. Should we expect to be compelled to replant with native vegetation, the likes of which exist along Highway 50, fronting the Tahoe Meadows? What a disgrace! This program is unnecessary and does nothing for the appearance of this community. In passing, there are three seats on the board of directors up for election and the filing period opens July 16 and closes on Aug. 10. I am hopeful we can attract candidates who are sensitive to the community, sensible and can inject a level of common sense to the decision making process.
– John N. Cefalu lives in South Lake Tahoe
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