Citing Gov. Spencer Cox’s declaration of a drought emergency, on April 14 the Oakley City Council passed a moratorium on culinary water usage for water features in town including ponds and outdoor pools.
The ordinance halts the use of culinary water for all indoor or outdoor water features that don’t have a culinary purpose including ponds, lakes, outdoor pools and waterfalls.
The council stated that without conservation measures, water demand will soon exceed the city’s water supply and capacity, during the warm months when the supply is most limited.
Oakley Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme said that during his tenure leading the city, it seems like setting water limits has been an annual event.
“What we found out is that we have a development of homes that have a lot of outdoor ponds and water features and stuff,” Woolstenhulme said. “Last year, as we were keeping track of water use, we had 10 houses using as much water as the rest of the city. What we’re trying to do is we’re working on getting better sources of water. But at the same time, where most of the people in Oakley water with culinary, then that causes a problem.”
The city has set a $10,000 fine for every violation of the moratorium.
The law sets out a few exceptions such as hot tubs or spas not exceeding 600 gallons, and water features using water obtained outside of Oakley. Also, swimming pools that are entirely indoors are exempt, but they must be inspected and filled by May 15.
The mayor said residents are not prohibited from watering their lawns.
“We’re just asking people to conserve and try to water twice a week and water at night, just the usual stuff that Gov. Cox in his memo for the state,” Woolstenhulme said. “That’s all we’re doing at this point.”
Woolstenhulme said the city hopes to make some water-saving improvements in the near future.
“We’ve done some modifications to our complex, so we don’t use as much culinary water to water it,” he said. “We’re looking into grants to xeriscape a bunch of area so we don’t have to water it, but make it still look nice. And we’re even going to be looking out for grants, things we can do to eventually turf our ball fields so we don’t have to water that.”