WHITE SALMON – White Salmon councilors will consider a proposal allowing the mayor to declare a water emergency and implement mandatory conservation measures at this Wednesday’s council meeting.
Proposed changes to the municipal water conservation code would give the mayor the power to declare various stages of water emergencies and implement conservation measures based on the severity of a given emergency.
A “Stage I” emergency, the least severe form of emergency, could be declared if a water shortage is anticipated but not immediate. City officials would be responsible for informing the public through press releases and other communication methods of the importance of water conservation.
In a situation where a water shortage exists “such that the water supply is affected and the demand for water must be reduced”, a “Phase II” emergency could be declared, resulting in mandatory conservation measures . Irrigation of lawns and gardens would be limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you use a timer system, irrigation can take place from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In a “Stage III” emergency, which could occur when a water shortage critically impacts water supply, irrigation would be restricted from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and for timer, from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. industrial sites for maintenance purposes and licensed car washes could continue to operate.
Irrigation of orchards, flushing of driveways and sidewalks, and filling of swimming pools would also be prohibited during a Stage III emergency.
In a Stage IV emergency, which could occur when maximum flow reduction is immediately required, all of the above rules would apply; furthermore, water consumption would only be permitted for essential domestic purposes.
In a maximum Stage V emergency, which could occur when a significant or complete amount of water is lost, all indoor and outdoor water use would be prohibited.
The proposed ordinance allows for deviations that would be determined by the mayor and would include an appeal process.
The initial violation of the code could result in a fine, and further violations could result in misdemeanor charges.
The proposal comes amid two recent water shortage advisories from the town of White Salmon in recent weeks. Citizens were asked to reduce their water consumption for up to 24 hours in a circumstance that arose in June. Mayor Marla Keethler said a generator outage that caused a water shortage last month prompted city officials to review the current code and found it does not address how the city should react in emergency situations.
Keethler clarified that the proposed code will describe how to conserve water in emergency situations and does not address long-term conservation goals that would be outlined in the city’s 10-year water system plan, to be released. later this fall.
“Having this code in place will provide more clarity and allow us to respond with more confidence that the actions we are taking are what any City Hall staff member would implement,” Keethler said.
Also on the agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting is a draft ordinance targeting abandoned cars parked on city streets. It would double the fine for various parking violations and codify a standard that vehicles in unusable condition, vehicles with missing or expired tags, or those clearly abandoned will be towed.