Council Approves Fees for Outdoor Water Restrictions

With the onset of hot weather at the end of July, it became apparent that the City was using more water than we were able to produce out of our wells. This caused the water tanks to deplete faster than normal, which impacts the city’s ability to respond to a large-scale fire and can impact water quality within our system. This will not affect running taps or flushing toilets but the City needs to retain our ability to respond in a crisis.

While the City has drilled a new well tapping into a deep, untouched aquifer that should provide water for many years to come, that well is not online yet, and will not be ready before the end of the year.

Earlier this year, like every year, the City mailed out a voluntary watering schedule with the utility bill to help our residents conserve water. However those measures were not enough during this temporary heat snap so the City passed an ordinance to make the watering schedule mandatory.

Outdoor Watering Restrictions

Outdoor watering and irrigation shall be limited to every other day, with even-numbered addresses irrigating only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and odd-numbered addresses irrigating only on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. No outdoor watering or irrigation is authorized on Monday.

Outdoor watering and irrigation is further restricted to the hours between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. and for a period of no longer than 30 minutes.

Recognized outdoor water use exceptions are:

  • Watering outdoor potted plant and hanging baskets
  • Watering newly planted lawns (installed within 6 months of the effective date of this resolution)
  • Watering vegetable gardens
  • Drip irrigation systems

Outdoor watering schedule shall be in effect until October 31, 2018 unless extended by City Council action.

Enforcement

The City is going to lead by example, we have stopped watering Griffintown and VanderYacht parks and are utilizing non-potable water for the Phillip 66 ballfields. The City is also working with our commercial customers to curtail their water use during this time.

A majority of the enforcement will be complaint-based. The fees for violations, as approved by the City Council on August 6th, 2018 are as follows:

1st Offense: Written Warning

2nd Offense: $50

3rd Offense: $125

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this because so many houses are being built?

While increased demand is factor, a much bigger factor in our water use is well production and temperature. For instance, the City as a whole utilized about three million gallons less in July 2018 than in July 2017 however because well production is down, we are depleting our water tanks at a faster rate, which is why the council implemented the outdoor water restrictions.

Our new well should provide for our future growth, but as always, the challenges we face today shape our decisions going forward as the City looks to secure water into the next hundred years.

Why don’t we just go back to pulling water out of the Nooksack?

There are several challenges with utilizing the Nooksack River as our water source. There are issues with agricultural runoff, competing industrial and commercial uses, and the fact that the amount and cost of the water would be controlled by the Public Utility District, rather than the City of Ferndale. We would also need to construct new treatment equipment as the process for handling well water is completely different from handling river water.

That is not to say that it is completely out of the question at some point in the future, however it is not as simple as it initially appears.

This seems like a heavy-handed approach; couldn’t you simply encourage people to use less water?

As a small city, we absolutely believe in the power of people coming together to do what is right in a pinch, however we did not want to get into a situation where we needed to take drastic measures in an emergency. By requiring the public to limit their outdoor watering to every other day, and working with our commercial users, we believe that we could make it through this temporary heat snap.

I want more information about this. Who can I ask?

Please call the Ferndale Public Works Department at (360) 384-4006 from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday for more information.

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