SYRACUSE -- City leaders are wrestling with the best method to compel citizens to slow the flow of water during this year of drought.
On one hand, city officials are mulling the possibility of passing an ordinance modeled after a guideline in a Florida community, setting days of the week when people would be allowed to water their lawns and the length of time they could use secondary water, with a tier of enforcement options.
City officials did set a May 28 public hearing to consider that possible guideline.
Conversely, officials like Councilman Craig Johnson want the city to stress education in getting residents to use less water and to use it more wisely, without having to wield the stick of enforcement.
"We have to have more trust in people and have more common sense without having an ordinance. We don't need to put it in law and ordinances," Johnson said.
Officials from Davis-
Weber Canal, which provides secondary water for the city's system, said without a cutback on water from participating communities of at least 25 percent, the current water supply will run out this summer.
During a recent work session, they stressed the need to conserve water use and emphasized the impact the draught is having on local reservoirs.
During that same work session, City Attorney Will Carlson outlined three possible models the city council could consider in pushing conservation.
The option council members thought best fit the city is the St. Johns River guideline from Florida, which stresses restrictions on the days people can water and establishes a guideline of watering for no longer than 30 minutes.
It then emphasizes a system of issuing a warning for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second offense and a $500 fine for the third offense. Carlson did point out the exceptions carved out in the guideline.
Councilman Brian Duncan thinks the city needs some sort of enforcement mechanism, but isn't sure if the ordinance should kick in without a trigger mechanism -- which was described as going through council review.
Mayor Jamie Nagle urged Carlson to take input from council members and then craft an ordinance for consideration at the public hearing, taking that input into consideration.
City Manager Bob Rice doesn't want the issue set aside.
"I don't want to kick the can down the road. I think we need to make some decisions," Rice said.
He stressed that an ordinance addressing water use, even with a trigger mechanism, would at least put city officials in the position of acting on water conservation or restrictions.
Councilman Doug Peterson expressed mixed emotions on the issue.
"If you have an ordinance, it has to come with code enforcement. The ordinance becomes an educational tool, which we already need to do anyway. We're getting 75 percent of the water. The education part will go farther than the ordinance part."