Water District looks at new fines

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Water District Board of Directors discussed its Water Shortage Contingency Plan on Monday. The board plans to update the plan with Ordinance 101 to comply with California Senate Bill 814.

SB 814 went into effect last year and requires water agencies to introduce penalties for “excessive water use” during state- and locally-declared drought conditions. The board didn’t rush to put penalties in place on the grounds that the IWV, which doesn’t utilize any surface water, wasn’t greatly affected by state drought conditions.

Now that the governor has lifted the drought state of emergency, board members feel more comfortable moving forward with their plan. The plan includes a nominal penalty for tier 3 and 4 water use during a state-declared emergency, but much more severe fines during local emergencies.

In the case of another state-declared emergency, the plan as proposed will impose the minimum one-percent usage charge on customers who move into the higher tiers. Should the Water District declare a local emergency, customers could be hit with a $100 fine for entering tier 3 plus an additional $10 per hundred acre feet used beyond tier 2. Multiple infractions increase by by $100 and $10, respectively, and can reach $500/$50 per month for continued excessive use.

One hundred cubic feet is equivalent to roughly 750 gallons of water. For reference, Water District customers used an average of 169 gallons/day last June. Consistently using 150 gallons or more will place a household of four into tier 3.

Director Chuck Griffin, has previously objected to defining tier-3 and -4 users as “excessive” users.

“I’m in tier 4 every month,” he said. “Am I a water waster? No. But I have six people living in my house.”

The full proposed plan will be available on the Water District’s website (www.iwvwd.com) in the near future. Staff is also preparing a summary of the plan for local media. The district’s legal counsel Jim Worth said he couldn’t confirm a public hearing, but the plan will be discussed during the district’s July meeting.

Story First Published: 2017-06-16