The Riverbank City Council has lifted, just a bit, watering restrictions for its residents.
The council took up the matter as a regular item on its June 13 agenda, under New Business.
According to City Manager Sean Scully, the changes became effective immediately. The next day, a notice was posted on social media by a city employee.
The change in water policy expanded summer watering days to three per week.
During the period, April 1 through Oct. 31, watering at odd-numbered addresses is now allowed on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
Even-numbered addresses can now water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the same time restrictions, before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
All landscape irrigation is prohibited on Mondays, and within 48 hours after a measurable rainfall event ends, regardless of the schedule.
It notes, however, that drip and micro-spray irrigation systems are exempt from the restrictions.
The winter time schedule remains at twice per week, from Nov. 1 through March 31, with odd-numbered addresses limited to Wednesday and Sunday, before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Even-numbered addresses water o, Tuesday and Saturday in the winter.
Landscape irrigation is prohibited at all times on Monday, Thursday and Friday during the winter.
Residents with questions can call the Public Works Department at 209-869-7128.
On April 26, 2016, the council adopted the more stringent, two-a-week watering schedule to comply with the governor’s mandate after he declared the state was being affected by a drought. He also set usage limits local governments were forced to meet. It was described as ‘onerous’ at the time by some local media outlets.
On Friday, April 7 this year, Governor Brown officially ended the drought declarations. The State Water Resources Control Board carried out the executive order lifting the watering restrictions for urban water suppliers, allowing the city to change its regulations.
The new watering schedule was originally proposed to take effect as of July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, but was enacted as of June 13 as requested by a couple of city council members to make it effective immediately. The city has reduced the fines for noncompliance by issuing a warning for the first offense from the previous $35 fee, the second penalty is $35 decreased from $100, the third fine has been reduced to $50 from the original $300 fine, the fourth penalty is $200 as opposed to the previous $400 charge, and the fifth penalty is now $200 as opposed to the $500 fee and each fine after that will be a flat rate of $200.
City officials said they will be eliminating the position that was created for monitoring water use at the end of the month. The position was created last year to help the city achieve the goals set by the state. City Public Works Superintendent Michael Riddell added that they only gave one hardship exemption since the new policy was created in 2016. He also stated that the city has reduced water use by 23 percent and has met the urban water management goal that was set by the state prior to their deadline of 2020 for a reduction of 20 percent.
The new watering schedule was approved by a 4 to 1 vote with Mayor Richard O’Brien casting the opposing vote.
News reporter Virginia Still contributed to this article.