In July, the State of California Water Resources Board implemented a statewide mandatory $500 fine for people and organizations — including taxpayer funded governmental entities like City of Turlock, Turlock Unified School District and California State University, Stanislaus — that waste water, specifically by allowing water to overflow onto concrete sidewalks and gutters.
Since the mandatory $500 fine hit the news, Turlockcitynews.com has received dozens of complaints and numerous pictures from residents pointing out obvious pools of water being wasted in the exact same manner as the fine stipulates.
Violations have been spotted on both City of Turlock and CSU Stanislaus property, and at some Turlock Unified School District schools.
An observant Turlock resident said they were passing by Julien Elementary School on their way home from work at 6:45 am on July 27 and noticed the concrete in the parking lot was covered in water. At 7 p.m. that same night the same parking lot was again covered in water. The resident took snapped a picture and submitted it to TurlockCityNews.com.
TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Trevethan, speaking in Superintendent Sonny Da Marto’s absence, explained that TUSD does not use reclaimed water for its sprinkler systems.
When asked in an email if TUSD feels that it is the taxpayers best interest to not adhere to state law concerning water waste, Trevethan replied, “No TUSD’s watering guidelines align to the approved watering guidelines and restrictions adopted by the City of Turlock.”
Julien Elementary has been under construction in recent months, however the pictures show no active construction.
“Our staff continue to monitor water waste and watering to prevent occurrences that involve damaged sprinklers, overwatering and the like,” said Trevethan. “However, when construction is occurring at specific sites, it is customary to provide additional flexibility to contractors in order to allow them to meet the demands and expectations of their contract.”
The $500 penalty does not provide exemptions for construction needs.
California is in the throes of a record three-year drought and voluntary water conservation statewide has failed to conserve a much needed 20 percent reduction in water usage.
According to a study by University of California Davis, water usage actually slightly increased in recent months. This study led to the order by the Water Board.
Many Turlock residents feel that the government and taxpayer-funded organizations are the biggest water wasters of all.
Comment after comment on Turlockcitynews.com Facebook page illustrates a growing disgust with public institutions wasting water while private residents do their best to help conserve water.
“If I could fine the city $500 each time I see them wasting water I would be able to quit my day job,” wrote Turlocker Roger Schmidt.
“CSUS, schools and the city are the worst offenders,” Jeff Colville wrote.
Perhaps in the coming days and weeks the City of Turlock, CSU Stanislaus and TUSD will delegate an employee (or a few) to physically go around and check what time sprinklers turn on and if they are working for their intended purpose.
The new rule has a provision declaring that public agencies can and will be prosecuted for the $500 fine. Unfortunately, it is unclear exactly who would collect the fines from the cities and governmental bodies. Perhaps a rebate check could be cut and distributed to all of the citizens of Turlock?
Turlock residents could use a new app that allows them to report water wasters. Vizsafe, a community safety app, introduced a section that allows residents to anonymously report water waste for all to see, including law enforcement.
Turlockers can report water wasting at the City of Turlock’s website and fill out the online reporting form, or you can call Municipal Services at 209-668-5590.