Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fresno to study 3 water conservation plans
City Council will take up measures after task force formed.
Published online on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009
By Russell Clemings / The Fresno Bee

Three months after forming a task force on water, the Fresno City Council will consider Thursday three water-conservation measures prompted by the drought.

Written by Council Member Andreas Borgeas, the measures:

-- Call for plans for reusing "graywater" -- waste water from washers, showers, bathtubs and other less-than-hazardous sources -- for landscape irrigation and limited indoor use.

-- Expand an existing rebate program for highly efficient home plumbing fixtures so businesses can qualify for the rebates, too. The program is funded at $22,000 in the fiscal year that started July 1.

-- Start a process leading to requirements for highly efficient fixtures in new construction in the downtown freeway triangle.

The council has previously called for changes in state and federal water policies, voting in July, for example, to back legal challenges to rules protecting two fish species from water project operations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The city also tightened its outdoor watering rules in April, banning all irrigation between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

But Borgeas said the city also should be "taking a good look into our backyard and seeing what we can do."

The measures have support from the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association "with one condition -- that they work with us on implementation," said Michael Prandini, the association's president and chief executive officer.

"We just don't want them to jump out too far in front" of what the association considers to be viable technologies, Prandini said.

Borgeas said the graywater measure is intended to give the city power to adopt tighter standards than those announced in July by the state Building Standards Commission.

Similarly, the downtown standards would complement recently adopted state standards. Water supplies downtown are considered a major limitation on higher-density development envisioned there.

The council's water task force, on which Borgeas serves, was formed in May but has not yet had a formal meeting because of more pressing council business like the city budget, followed by vacations in July and August.
The reporter can be reached at rclemings@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6371.

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