Lemoore residents rack up over $8,000 in water conservation fines

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Lemoore residents rack up over $8,000 in water conservation fines

As the City of Lemoore struggles to meet state mandates for saving water – Lemoore has been ordered to reduce its water usage by some 32 percent – some folks here just aren’t getting the message and instead have been racking up fines totaling $8,215 over the course of the last two fiscal years.

Lemoore’s fines certainly don’t compare to larger communities that also fine their residents for using too much water or ignoring city-ordered conservation methods.

The City of Clovis has been perhaps one of the more aggressive in collecting fines as city officials have collected nearly $500,000 in water fines over the course of the past year and just recently stopped issuing fines and instead increase conservation awareness as well as reduce watering to just one day a week.

Lemoore's Water Ordinance

Fresno also has issued fines, but not to the extent of its neighbor to the east. Fresno has collected a paltry $36,000 in fines.

Like most California cities during the extended drought, Lemoore has implemented tougher new measures in an effort to meet the state’s mandate. Lemoore has cut back water days to just two days a week and drastically reduced the amount of water for parks and other city facilities.

Other requirements include using a shutoff valve when washing vehicles and prohibitions on washing driveways and other solid areas.

According to the city’s emergency water ordinance, residents are initially warned upon their first violation and then fined on subsequent violations. Currently a second violation will cost the violator $25 and a third violation $50. On a fourth violation, the transgressor earns a $100 fine.

A fifth violation - and there haven’t been any yet - could force city officials to place a flow restrictor on the resident’s service.

So far in the 2016 fiscal year, which began July 1, the city has issued 74 second violations totaling $1,710 and 21 third violations, collecting $1,025. There were 11 fourth violations totaling $1,050.

Despite the 96 violations so far this year, Lemoore City Manager Andi Welsh says residents have been very cooperative. For example, the city is required to identify the 25 largest residential water users in the city as well as the 25 top commercial users.

The city is in the process of meeting with the top 25 residential users in an effort to audit their water use, pointing out leaky faucets and other factors contributing to substantial water use. “We must do an audit,” said Welsh. “We made contact with the top 25 residential users and so far it’s been very positive as far as the audits are concerned.”

She went on to say that the larger water users can generally be identified by their location within the city. “Most of the high water users were the ones with the larger-lot sizes. It’s certainly an educational opportunity for us,” she added.

The California State Water Resources Board has given the City of Lemoore a reprieve of sorts by issuing Lemoore a variance to tough mandatory water restrictions. Thanks to Governor Brown’s executive order earlier this year mandating that the state’s cities reduce their water usage, Lemoore was ordered to adopt a 32-percent decrease. So far the city has been unable to meet that goal.

The root of the non-compliance is the water used by its major industrial users. City officials have praised the efforts of the public. Water statistics show that residential use has dropped dramatically over the past few months. However, industrial use has not. City officials admit that Lemoore’s major users of water, led by Leprino Foods, with two major cheese plants in Lemoore are contributing to Lemoore’s poor figures. There are also two tomato processing plants that use a fair share of water.

The State Water Resources Board agreed with Lemoore’s assessment of industrial use and issued the compliance order, but with restrictions, which include the residential water audits, and completing a water rate study.

Top 25 Lemoore Commercial Water Users

1 West Hills
2 Lemoore Elementary
3 Lakeview Apts
4 The Grove
5 Westberry Square Apts
6 Kings Estate Mobile Park
7 Country Club Apartments
8 Alderwood Apts
9 Meadow Lane
10 Montclair
11 Heritage
12 Tanglewood
13 Lemoore Apts
14 Brookfair Manor
15 Liberty Middle School
16 Park Place
17 Valley Oak Apt
18 P.W. Engvall
19 Cemex
20 Cinnamon Elementary
21 Montgomery Crossing
22 Royal Quick Lube/Car Wash
23 Best Buy Market
24 Cinnamon Villas
25 Best Western Inn

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