ALAMOSA — Alamosa residents are now under watering restrictions, which are voluntary at this point.
Although a vote Wednesday night approving a resolution instituting voluntary watering restrictions was unanimous, not all of the Alamosa city council believed the restrictions should be voluntary.
Councilmen Charles Griego and Jan Vigil said due to the severity of the drought facing the area this year, the city should make watering restrictions mandatory.
However, they voted along with Councilors David Broyles, Michael Carson, Kristina Daniel, Liz Thomas Hensley and Mayor Ty Coleman to approve a resolution instituting voluntary watering restrictions in the city limits.
City code permits the city council to act by resolution to place restrictions on water use in times of water shortage or scarcity.
In effect immediately, city residents are asked to voluntarily restrict watering to the hours between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., not watering during the heat of the day. Residents are also asked to water on the following schedule: odd numbered addresses watering on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and even numbered addresses on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with no watering on Mondays. This is similar to the current watering restrictions in Monte Vista.
Exceptions include vegetable gardens, new plantings on the day of planting, essential turf subject to heavy public use and establishment of new turf from seed or sod (up to 21 days.)
Councilman Griego said from sitting on a water board and visiting with numerous people throughout the San Luis Valley, he understands the Valley is looking at a drought year similar to the severe drought of 2002/2003. Given that, he would rather see the city enact mandatory restrictions, he said.
“We are in trouble,” he said. “I would rather we make this mandatory, would rather do it right away.”
Councilman Vigil asked, “How severe does the drought have to be to make it mandatory?”
Councilman Broyles preferred to start with voluntary restrictions and see how that goes first. “I really think the people of Alamosa if they understand will voluntarily step up,” he said.
Councilor Daniel agreed. “I would like to keep it voluntary language to start,” she said.
Councilor Hensley also supported voluntary restrictions in the beginning and see how that works. She said she believed neighborhood pressure would help people to do the right thing. She also believed educational efforts needed to be made.
In addition to passing a resolution calling for voluntary watering restrictions, the council approved on first reading and scheduled for a June 6 public hearing an amendment to the ordinance prohibiting wasting of water. The amendment specifies ACTIONS THAT ARE PROHIBITED including:
• Routine watering of turf (limited to three days per week) except for watering for up to 21 days to establish new turf from sod or seed
• Watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during from May 1 to October 1, except for establishing turf, watering newly planted materials, watering turf essential to public use, installing, maintaining or repairing an irrigation system
• Watering during rain or high wind
• Watering the street, parking lot, alley, sidewalk or driveway
• Allowing water to pool in gutters, streets, alleys or storm drains
• Taking more than 10 business days to repair leaking or damaged irrigation components, service lines or other plumbing fixtures
• Washing vehicles with a hose without an automatic shut-off valve
Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said the measures before the council arose out of a work session earlier this month in which council talked about not only the need to take action in light of current dry conditions but also to look at ongoing water conservation.
She also clarified that the city ordinances currently prohibit water wasting but do not state specific prohibitions. This amended ordinance will spell it out for residents.
She said the city will notify residents through the utility bills, social media and other methods.
She said the city will not hire more staff to enforce these measures but will treat it like other nuisances based primarily on complaints.