City water restrictions imposed

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By Tom McDonald

With a divided vote Wednesday, the Las Vegas City Council placed Stage 1 use restrictions on the city’s water customers.

The action means the city’s water users must curtail their water use in several ways, including outside watering, swimming pool upkeep and ornamental fountain use, car washing, restaurants serving water to customers, and fire hydrants. (See info box, Page A2)

The council voted 2-1 in favor of the staff recommendation to initiate water conservation measures. Utilities Director George DuFour said the action is needed because the city is diverting more than 3 million gallons a day from the Gallinas River and. Coupled with evaporation in the reservoir, he said, usage needs to be slowed.

Councilor Andrew Feldman, who is also the president of the Las Vegas Community Water Board, made the motion to approve the recommendation and Diane Moore backed him up with the passing vote. Morris Madrid voted no and Cruz Roybal was absent.

Madrid pointed out that the city’s water conservation ordinance states that the city manager, in consultation with staff, shall make the decision to impose water use restrictions. The council does not need to take action on the matter, he said. “But if we do, it will take the council to un-do it,” Madrid said.

Expressing concern about the inconvenience to the city’s water users, Madrid also said the action is “a little premature” because of the upcoming monsoon season and the 95 percent storage in the reservoir Wednesday. He suggested the council “set a water mark” on storage capacity and direct the city manager to impose the restrictions at that point.

Moore, however, only wanted assurance from DuFour that if the monsoons bring abundant rainfall he return to the council and recommend lifting the restrictions. He said he would.

Feldman said later that he preferred to “err on the side of caution” and go immediately into Stage 1 restrictions.

Factoring into the decision was the fact that Taylor Well No. 4 is down for repairs right now. DuFour said it would be a couple of weeks to get it up and running again, and even then the city wouldn’t pull more than 200,000 gallons a day from it.

“The wells are not recovering the way we think they should,” he said.

In another water-related matter, the council voted 2-1 to approve an agreement with San Miguel County to use city water at the old Medite site for a new public works facility. DuFour said plans are to tap into an already existing 6-inch line in 1 to 1-1/2 years, once the site is fully developed.

Madrid expressed concern that water use restrictions that are imposed on city customers aren’t written into the agreement for the county to abide by as well. The city attorney said he believed the wording incorporated that consideration but Madrid disagreed and voted no on the resolution.