At last night's Gillette City Council Work Session, the council had a discussion of an ordinance to amend section 17-32 of the Gillette City Code concerning water wasting. The possible ordinance would focus on irrigation, such as yard or property watering between June 1st and October 1st. City staff said its main focus would be to forbid watering on Mondays during that time period and on any day between the hours of 7am and 7pm. Fines issued to violators would add some teeth to what is currently a voluntary set of guidelines to discourage the wasting of water. Continuing to water with leaking or damaged irrigation components after 10 business days written notice to repair is also touched on in a draft of the ordinance.
Fines being considered for the proposed ordinance got a great deal of discussion from council members. Councilwoman Louise Carter-King wanted to know if warnings would be issued to residents before they are hit with the initial fine of $100. Sustainability Coordinator Michael Foote said that two warnings could be expected before a fine was issued.
The amount of the fines also dominated large portions of the conversation. An initial draft of the ordinance showed a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense, a $500 fine for a third offense and a $750 fine for every offense thereafter. Councilman Robyn Kuntz said he could not support any consideration of fines that high. After hearing Kuntz's concerns, Gillette Mayor Tom Murphy solicited feedback from every council member. Councilman Ted Jerred suggested leaving the amount of a fine for a first offense at $100, but only raising the amount of the fine in $50 increments for every offense after that, until repeating at $250.
Sustainability Coordinator Michael Foote began last night's discussion by presenting data on a very dry 2012 and what indicators are showing to be anther notably dry year in 2013. Foote said the goal is to keep water usage in the city below 10 million gallons per day. Foote said that equates to about 150 gallons per person, per day, on an annualized basis. Mayor Murphy said he believes that everybody in Gillette needs to take water conservation seriously, and the council needs to send a message loud and clear that water conservation is serious business.
"None of us want to have the (water) tanks to a level where a wild land grass fire comes in and burns up some buildings, and we can't (adequately) fight the fire."---Murphy
The public will have some time to discuss the issue and contact their council members or city staff with comments and concerns. The first of three readings for the ordinance is expected to be February 19th, 7pm, at Gillette City Hall.