Saving water a priority for RP
Council backs call for 20-percent cut in water usage
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By Mira Brody  February 21, 2014 12:00 am

The Rohnert Park City Council on Feb. 11 unanimously voted for the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership efforts as well as Governor Jerry Brown’s Emergency Drought Declaration seeking voluntary 20 percent reduction of water usage. 

The support of the partnership will not only encourage residents and businesses to cut back their water usage, but also involve a marketing campaign in order to encourage citizens to “do their part.” Mayor Joseph Callinan and the rest of the council all showed signs of confidence their community would have no trouble in conservation efforts.

“Asking for 20 percent is more than feasible,” Callinan said. “We are already the least consumptive city, and we have not had a water rate increase since 2008, which is a long time to not have an increase.”

The only issue discussed with preserving water in town is that no matter how much water they save, consumers will not see a decrease in their water bill. Many actually will see an increase in fees, providing the opposite of an incentive.

“Rohnert Park has always been ahead,” Councilman Jake Mackenzie said about water conservation. “Now we’re on that fine line of asking our residents to cut back yet risk getting their rates raised. It is important though, to do your part for your community.”

Mackenzie also expressed gratitude for the large amount of rain the area received this past week, but stresses that: “we are still under drought conditions. We may not be in dire straits yet, but if we do end up in dire straits, we have the measures in place.”

Rohnert Park and Cotati are well-known for their implementation of city wells, a resource that is readily available. Councilmember Pam Stafford says to view the wells as the city’s bank account. Because Rohnert Park receives its fresh water from Lake Sonoma, which rose an additional 5 percent this week, there are a few carryover years left. The Sonoma County cities that rely on the Russian River Watershed, such as Healdsburg, are currently in more crucial conditions.

Lake Mendocino had to release lots of water a few days ago in order to facilitate the migration of the native salmon species, whose lives have been greatly impacted by low water levels. The act may have saved a generation of fish crucial to the well-being of Sonoma County’s fishing commerce.

“Rohnert Park is in a good position, it is where a lot of cities in California want to be,” Callinan said.

Conservation measures now supported by the council include updating irrigation systems, utilizing possible incentive programs and paying closer attention to water meters in order to monitor residents and business water consumption.

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