Friday, May 22, 2009

Fresno Audubon and Water Conservation - Our most recent actions and plans for the future

According to a recent survey of our membership, 84% think water conservation and efficiency is an important issue for us to address. Despite the seemingly vast support for water conservation initiatives, I know some will express concerns that Fresno Audubon should not be taking up such an issue.
First, if we don't advocate for conservation and efficiency, who will? I am unaware of other local groups working on this issue.
Secondly, local elected officials(generally) do not lead on this issue. The people do not lead either - Fresno has one of the highest per capita usage rates in California. There is a need for action.
Thirdly, human needs and consumption of water will and are having an effect on the availability of water for habitat. There is a connection between water supply and the health of the ecosystems we are all so passionate about even if it is not easy to see all of the time. Promoting conservation and sustainable use of water is one way of helping to ensure adequate water supply to the environment.

What we are working on:
Today I met with Steven Sotomayor, Chief of Staff for Fresno City Councilman Andreas Borgeas to discuss ways in which the city can assume a leadership role in the realm of water conservation.
Our suggestions:
1.Expanded Residential Incentive Program including:
Rain barrels
Synthetic turf and/or water efficient landscape rebates
Weather based irrigation controllers
Gray water systems
These suggestions were well received, but would need to pass a cost-benefit test before implementation.

2. Revise the City of Fresno Approved Plants List to include only plants with minimal water needs. A number of the plants on the current list are not drought tolerant.
Also well received. I am going to be working on my own draft revision of the list .

3. Implement Common Sense Steps in Fresno's Water Shortage Contingency Plan and additional measures.
A. No restaurant, hotel, café, cafeteria or other public place where food is sold, served, or offered for sale, shall serve drinking water to any customer unless expressly requested

B. Prohibit use of potable water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains, lakes or ponds.

C. Require hotels and motels to provide customers the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily. The hotel or motel shall prominently display notice of this option in each bathroom and sleeping room using clear and easily understood language. City of Fresno or other organization could furnish appropriate signage.

It was suggested that a public-private partnership might be the best way to achieve all of the aforementioned goals and that the City could be a supporter. I agree. This will take some work should we decide to pursue it, but a voluntary partnership will not evoke the public anger that government regulations might.

D. Consider organizing a citizen task force on water to assist with enforcement of regulations, outreach, and aforementioned survey of city landscapes. Provide volunteers with reasonable incentives for service.

Other Steps
Comprehensive review of irrigation practices on city maintained landscapes to identify and eliminate waste and instances of noncompliance with city regulations and/or situations in which drought tolerant landscaping could be implemented.
Comprehensive review of water use in municipal buildings. Identify/eliminate waste. Investigate feasibility of upgrades to efficient fixtures and set timelines for implementation.

Basically, a very good meeting. We plan on continuing our dialogue on water conservation and working for the implementation of our ideas.

Please, if you feel so inclined, thank Andreas Borgeas and staff for inviting us to the table on this important issue.

1 comment:

Marla said...

Secret water diversion. 50-yrs behind the planning of this. I was employed by the ringleader on 2 occasions ~ I did not believe what he was telling me until he and Public Works were caught in action. This is tragic.
CLICK: Marla