If there is anything that can be said with a fair amount of certainty about Turlockers and, in a bigger picture, about American culture is that citizens don’t like to be told to do one thing by the government, while the government does the exact thing citizens who pay their salaries are told not to do.
Last week the California State Water Resources Board ordered a statewide mandatory $500 fine for citizens who waste water, in particular by letting water overflow onto sidewalks and gutters. The agency effectively gave cities the green light to implement the fine as needed.
Yet a simple drive down Golden State Boulevard to the Stanislaus County Fair on Sunday, and an on-campus visit to California State University, Stanislaus on Monday, made it abundantly clear that both the City of Turlock and CSU Stanislaus are wasting water.
On Sunday, a City of Turlock-owned parking lot located on the eastside of Golden State Boulevard, across from the Chamber of Commerce was flooding with water.
Three broken sprinkler heads spouted water several feet high and the rest of system continued to sprinkle parking lot landscaping. A representative of the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association, who wished to remain unnamed, said the sprinklers had been on since they arrived at work at a nearby shop approximately six hours earlier.
A call to the City of Turlock Public Maintenance Supervisor Ray Garcia revealed that Downtown Property Owners have a contract with the City of Turlock that includes landscape maintenance with a private landscaping company, who is responsible for the parking lot planter boxes.
It is unclear whom, but someone later turned the sprinkler system off only after TurlockCityNews.com alerted the Downtown representative that water was pouring onto Golden State Boulevard and inside the parking lot.
Both Garcia and the Downtown Property Owner’s Association member explained that the broken sprinkler heads, which dumped gallons of water onto the pavement, had been caused by vandals who kicked them off. Oddly, only one of the actual sprinkler heads was physically broken off its base.
Garcia said the total number of sprinkler heads under the responsibility of the city is unknown, but likely in the thousands and city staff obviously cannot keep tabs on all of them all of the time. Garcia said the City relies on Turlock citizens to be their eyes for broken sprinkler heads.
He also noted that while the City does use recycled water systems at numerous parks and medians, he was unaware of the water source for that particular parking lot.
CSU Stanislaus Watering Sidewalks and Gutters
It is one thing for the City of Turlock and Downtown Property Owners to be unaware of vandalism or broken sprinkler systems in a city with thousands, but it is another thing to be completely unaware of water being wasted on a college campus, which apparently was the case at CSU Stanislaus.
On Monday morning this reporter visited CSU Stanislaus for a private matter and happened to notice that the roadway and sidewalk off Geer Road, which leads to the soccer practice field, was covered not just in residue wetness, but sizable puddles of the state’s precious water.
It is unknown how many days, weeks or months this particular set of sprinklers has been watering the sidewalk and gutter.
“Staff monitors water usage on campus, but we also rely on the campus community and visitors to notify us when issues like this arise,” CSU Stanislaus Director of Facilities, Planning and Finance Julia Reynoso said in an email.
Ironically, no more than 50 yards away a clearly marked CSU Stanislaus Maintenance crew was performing some tree and landscaping work on the medium between the soccer practice fields parking lot and the road.
The sprinklers remained on, leaking water onto the sidewalk and roadway from approximately 9 to 11 a.m., meanwhile another set of sprinklers had yet to cease operation by 12:10 p.m.
Reynoso said the water at CSU Stanislaus comes from its own irrigation system and does not use City of Turlock, nor Turlock Irrigation District water.
“The university pumps its own water for irrigation use, and storm drains are connected directly to the irrigation system,” Reynoso wrote in an email. “Sprinkler runoff recaptured in the storm drain is later reused for irrigation. The university takes its obligations to the state, the people and the environment very seriously and has implement a number of water-saving measures.”
The next day a maintenance crew was seen at about 8:45 a.m. working on the mismanaged sprinkler heads.
To report water wasters fill out the complaint form here, or call Municipal Services at 209-668-5590.