City Ordinances Combat Water Wasting

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One of the many ways in which the City of Lancaster has worked to conserve local water resources and protect Lancaster from future shortages is the adoption of two ordinances to the Lancaster Municipal Code in early 2008.

The first, Ordinance 892, is a Prohibition of Wasting Water. It cautions against misusing water that is supplied by a public water system. The code also identifies several acts as a waste of water, including:
Leaky Faucet
• Allowing a faucet or hydrant to leak or drain into a sewer after having been told to fix the problem by any public officer.
• Using water to cool any refrigerator, air-conditioning system, motor, etc. unless the water used is then collected, re-cooled and reused.
• Allowing water to flow from any faucet, hose, etc. for more than 30 minutes without putting the water to a beneficial use. Each 30 minutes this occurs will be considered a separate offense.
• Allowing water to leak for an unreasonable length of time.

The waste of water in these ways, in addition to proof that the waste came from a specific home or business, is considered evidence that the owner or occupant of that home or business is responsible for the waste.

“We are confident that this ordinance will help reduce unnecessary water use, which will also conserve clean drinking water for more important purposes,” said Public Works Director Robert Neal. “Our goal is to make sure that Lancaster residents have access to the water they truly need.”

The second ordinance, number 893, is called “Water Efficient Landscape.” It restricts the planting of trees and other plants that use large amounts of water and requires the use of “smart” irrigation controllers on new development contracts. The ordinance follows the guidelines recommended by a coalition of Antelope Valley water purveyors, landscape architects, City officials, builders, and representatives from the Building Industry Association to establish standards for landscape design that are appropriate to Lancaster’s climate and resources.

At its core, this ordinance aims to prevent developers from using landscaping that requires large amounts of water. It also provides for standards for plant selections, water features, use limitations, soil conditions and irrigation features, which will be established by the City Council.

The code applies to all new projects reviewed by the City for conditional use permits or design on or after February 1, 2008. This includes office, commercial, industrial and institutional landscaping; park and greenbelt landscaping; developer-installed landscaping in multiple family residential developments, and common areas of single-family residential developments. While the ordinance does not apply to landscaping in private areas of residential projects, these developments are encouraged to use these guidelines to conserve local water resources and help ensure that water is not wasted.

“Both ordinances are essential to our mission to provide clean water to our residents – not just today, but also for future generations,” said Neal. “We hope that all local citizens will join us in this effort to conserve our natural resources and protect our environment.”