In Thirsty Landers Even Tighter H2O Restrictions

LANDERS—In the desert community of Landers, where water has always been a precious commodity and residents have long been conservative in their water use and consumption, the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency board of directors voted 5-0 last week to impose even tighter restrictions on water use in reaction to Governor Jerry Brown’s emergency drought declaration.
Bighorn-Desert View is a special water agency. The residents it serves had already, on average, reduced their daily water consumption to less than 100 gallons per person. Nevertheless, the agency is not exempt from Brown’s dictate and so the board for the agency was faced with the option of reducing Bighorn-Desert View’s water consumption by 25 percent or enacting a water conservation plan responsive to the governor’s direction to conserve the resource.
In most other jurisdictions where efforts to meet the 25 percent use reduction goal have been or are being undertaken, there was an abundance of green landscaping. Very little traditional water use intensive landscaping exists in Landers. Thus meeting the 25 percent reduction mandate would have been very difficult or impossible. Ultimately, the board elected to adopt a new ordinance which prohibits daytime landscaping irrigation, directing that watering take place only between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. and not more than twice a week and further prohibits watering within 48 hours of measurable rain. Watering may not cause any runoff into the adjacent roadway and a vehicle may only be washed with a hose equipped with a shut-off valve or a water-filled bucket. Any leaks to plumbing and fixtures must be repaired promptly. Decorative fountains that do not have a recirculating water system are prohibited..
The ordinance stipulates penalties for violations of the conservation measures, which are triggered after the issuance of two written notices of non-compliance which exact no monetary fine. A third violation will result in a $100 fine, and further violations would be met with a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $500.
At present, the most profligate use of water in Landers appears to be evaporative coolers, also referred to as “swamp coolers.” These devices use the evaporative process to cool air in an enclosed chamber, which Is then forced into a duct system or directly into a structure. The constant evaporation results in the accelerated loss of moisture into the atmosphere.
Because they are a common form of providing summer air conditioning in the desert, evaporative coolers have not been restricted or prohibited.

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