By Tim Hunt
Smith responds to water penalty for previous vacant houseUploaded: Sep 4, 2014
A comment in response to an earlier post about water rationing in Pleasanton called into question the city's decision to charge penalties on a house that had been foreclosed the year before and had been vacant.
The ordinance allows inclusion of water use history from 1-4 years. Daniel Smith, Pleasanton's operations director who oversees the water utility, wrote he is spending the majority of his time dealing with questions and appeals. He wrote in an email that the city will send out technicians, if necessary, to ensure it is being "fair in our process."
Explaining the process, he wrote, "The other factor that we use is outside irrigation which is the demand we are trying to control during the hot months and we will have someone jump up to a 100 units which is 1246 gallons a day and they say you cannot count that because I was not here last year, that is not realistic because we will run out of water. The drought situation in California is the worst it has ever been and it is particularly bad here in the tri-valley. A small majority are focusing on penalties and we are focusing on not running out of water which is a real threat. To date 93% of Pleasanton residents have met the 25% reduction numbers that is fantastic effort!"
The penalties are substantial and, unlike the tiered rates that PG&E uses, apply back to the first unit of water used. A first-time offender will pay an additional $4 per unit plus a $50 penalty. That climbs to $8 and $100 fine for a second violation and goes to $12 and a $250 fine on the third time. Given two-month billing cycles, it's unlikely that many users will reach the third level and they will pay dearly if they do.
Smith concluded, "the penalty is a strong tool to encourage them to conserve and protect our community."
He invites calls with questions or comments at (925) 931-5509 or [email protected] with the caveat that they are quite busy so it may take a day or two before a call or email receives a response,