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Redlands creates new irrigation efficiency program in lieu of $61,000 fine by State Water Board
A new irrigation efficiency program and an awareness program has been developed by the city of Redlands (San Bernardino County) in lieu of $61,000 fine by State Water Resources Control Board. The city had been assessed the financial fine in the fall of 2015 for alleged failure to achieve its 36 percent mandatory water conservation standard.
Since the city was assessed the financial penalty they have agreed to create a citrus grove retrofit-rebate program with incentives for replacing inefficient irrigation systems. The program focuses on grove irrigation and other large water users. In addition to the Groves program, the city will initiate an education campaign promoting the investigation of water waste and how to report it.
“The State Water Board’s goal has always been about furthering the efforts of water conservation – not issuing fines,” said Cris Carrigan, director of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement. “This is the third agreement we’ve reached with a water supplier that was originally issued a civil liability for not meeting its water-saving mandate. This project will help upgrade old, inefficient irrigation systems, and educate the next generation of water users on the importance of conservation and stopping water waste. A key advantage of this approach is that funds that would have gone to pay the civil liability will be kept locally to help improve water savings.”
If the city has implemented both the irrigation efficiency program and an awareness program by June 30, 2017, the State Water Board will suspend the $61,000 penalty. However, if Redlands does not meet that deadline the State Water Board can hold the city accountable for the administrative civil liability.
The State Water Board has previously reached settlements with the Indio Water Authority and the Coachella Valley Water District. Both cities implemented water conservation programs in lieu of the administrative civil liabilities and fines. However, the city of Beverly Hills opted to pay a $61,000 penalty as opposed to investing in an efficiency and conservation program.
Redland’s new awareness campaign is targeted toward elementary-aged school children. Two fictional alligators will educate students on the importance of water conservation, and how to report water waste when they discover it. Children will be eligible for award prizes, and when appropriate, will receive public recognition for reporting water waste.
“The city of Redlands appreciates the State Water Board’s support of this project and its willingness to allow us to spend the funds in a way that benefits the residents of our city, as opposed to paying a financial penalty,” said Redlands Mayor Paul Foster. “We expect this rebate program will become a valuable resource for those wishing to improve their irrigation systems. And educating our city’s youth on the benefits of water conservation will help us in our efforts to make water conservation a way of life for generations to come.”
Redlands will gauge the success of their new water conservation program through comparison of customers’ total water use compared to previous years as well as consumer’s participation in the rebate program.