Lubbock City Council was almost ready to pass a revised water ordinance on Tuesday if it weren't for one provision. They have concerns over wording that would allow fines if residential or commercial sprinklers contributed to water run-off problems.
It was consensus at Tuesday's council meeting, that would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. District 5 Councilman, Tom Martin, says, "I've become convinced the bureaucracy we'd have to set up to enforce a run-off ordinance that relies on how deep the water is and the curb.. how much is running off... in how big an area.. is so complex, and the chance of us getting convictions in municipal court is very very limited."
Ches Carthel, City of Lubbock Water Planning Engineer, says, "We tried through a water commission and city staff to present a reasonable definition of water run-off.. Certainly there are fallacies with that definition and any definition we come up with."
For all those reasons, city council did not pass a second reading of the city's water ordinance. The council wants more time to explore an alternative; namely re-structuring water rates and making people pay more for water they use in excess of what's deemed average. Martin says, "If it hits you in the pocketbook that you're running it down the bar ditch, you're going to be more inclined to start watering correctly."
Without, the ordnance's provision for run-off fines, the council was ready to pass the rest of the proposed ordinance changes. One of those would make it illegal to run sprinklers between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during daylight savings time. Monitored watering with a hose and sub-surface systems would be allowed.
The ordinance also calls for all new commercial sprinkler systems to have freeze and rain sensors. Those are requirements the city itself will have to live up to. Carthel says, "Our philosophy as a municipality is not to enforce ordinances to the general citizenship we can't comply with ourselves."
The city says they are currently in compliance will all provisions of the existing ordinance except the run-off provision. They are planning to spend about $15,000 to correct problems with sprinklers in some of the city's older parks. As for what happens now, city attorneys will remove the run-off provision from the ordinance and council will discuss the issue again on April 22nd.