Exeter changes water conservation ordinance in favor of development

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

EXETER – California’s drought continues to keep local government on edge when it comes to water conservation. But the City of Exeter is making some exceptions in favor of development.

The Exeter City Council voted 4-0 in favor of slight changes to their Stage 3 water conservation ordinance, including lifting a prohibition on water meters for contractors. Public works director Daymon Qualls said some parts of the ordinance may in effect be hurting the city more than it is helping. Specifically, he noted the prohibition on issuing construction water meters that Stage 3 calls for.

“Watering restrictions discourages development by creating an unnecessary hardship on construction allowed and approved within the City of Exeter,” a public works city staff report read.

The restriction forces contractors to haul in water from outside the city for their construction work. Qualls added the prohibition could result in larger projects no longer being feasible. And looking into the future Groundwater Sustainability Agency requirements will likely make taking water from other areas an “unacceptable practice.”

Now the City will be allowed to issue construction water meters and clarified that water from fire hydrants will be limited to fire fighting and other activities immediately necessary for development and maintaining the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Exeter.

Also, in terms of development, the council decided in the same Stage 3 adjustment to allow for the initial filling of swimming pools. Originally Stage 3 prohibited filling pools, without clarifying whether the ordinance includes new pools. Qualls said as a result the regulation discouraged the construction of pools in Exeter and has also forced contractors to haul in water from surrounding areas.

Because contractors were filling pools with water that came from outside the city, the same future problems apply to filling swimming pools. While the ordinance has changed slightly the filling, refilling or adding of water to swimming pools, wading pools and spas is still prohibited beyond the initial filling of a built-in pool.

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