Council, staff diverge on water restrictions
By Paul Myers
exeter – With snow capped mountains to the eastern horizon and roaring rivers beginning to flow as snowmelt begins to bring water to the Valley, cities are beginning to budge on water conservation. The latest city to scale down conservation efforts is Exeter, albeit without staff’s recommendation.
“I’ll be honest. I am not comfortable recommending that we go to Stage 2 restrictions, only because I’m not confident what our water supply is going to do over the next six to eight months,” stated Exeter public works director Daymon Qualls at last week’s, May 9 council meeting
However, Mayor Teresa Boyce stated that residents have been conserving for so long she thinks that moving to Stage 2 won’t have much effect on water use.
“I don’t have a problem moving to Stage 2 myself. I think people are so conscious of conserving right now, I don’t think anyone will quit conserving,” Boyce said. “For me, it gives me more flexibility to water. Because I don’t want to be in my backyard watering at 8 o’clock at night.”
Exeter city manager Randy Groom noted that the Council could use more discretion over how they enforce Stage 3 and avoid moving down to Stage 2.
“People have been conserving and we haven’t had some of the violations we had constantly. Some have heard the statewide restrictions have changed and then changed without asking,” Groom said. “[Changing enforcement] is not the best way in the world to do it, but it is kind of a practical way to do it.”
Qualls noted as well that the City can move from Stage 2 back to Stage 3 if it feels that water levels are falling below where they need to be. Qualls also issued a press release last Friday, May 12, noting the key differences between Stage 2 and Stage 3.
“Effective immediately, all City of Exeter residents will be on a three-day watering schedule. Even addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and odd addresses may water on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Outdoor irrigation must occur before 10:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. on designated days. This is a change from the previous Stage 3 – before 7:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m. schedule.”
Qualls’ press release also noted that the following prohibitions are still in effect:
The washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, courts, patios or other paved area is absolutely prohibited.
The application of potable water to outdoor landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall is prohibited.
The use of water which allows any amount of water to run off to a gutter, ditch or drain. Every water user it deemed to have his or her water distribution line and facilities under his or her control at all times and to know the manner and extent of his or her water use and excess run-off.
The excessive use, loss or escape of water through breaks, leaks or malfunctions in the water user’s plumbing or distribution facilities for any period of time after the escape of water should reasonably have been discovered and corrected. It shall be presumed that a period of 48 hours after discovery is a reasonable time within which to correct the leak or break.
Overall, councilmember Jeremy Petty, mayor pro tem Mary Waterman and Mayor Boyce voted unanimously to scale back to Stage 2.
Qualls noted that if residents have any questions regarding the new water conservation stage, please contact the City of Exeter’s Public Works Department at 592-3318 or the Utility Billing Department at 592-3710.