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Proposed Water Conservation Ordinance Tabled For Fine-Tuning

Ted Chase

Township Councilman Ted Chase reacts March 11 as it becomes apparent that his water conservation ordinance will not be introduced at that meeting.

Township Councilman Ted Chase has waited four years to get his water conservation ordinance introduced, and it looks as though he’ll have to wait a while longer.

The ordinance was set to be introduced on first reading at the council’s March 11 meeting. But objections raised by Deputy Mayor Brian Regan (D-At Large) convinced his fellow council members to hold off until at least mid-May.

After detailing a number of concerns he had with the ordinance, Regan asked that a special committee be established to fine-tune the ordinance. That was eventually agreed to, and Regan, Chase and Mayor Brian Levine volunteered for it. Township manager Bob Vornlocker was also drafted to be on the committee.

The ordinance was supposed to have been introduced at the council’s Jan. 28 meeting, but was pulled by Chase because it still needed to be reviewed by township attorney Louis Rainone.

The ordinance is actually a replacement of the township’s water emergency ordinance. The new version would place voluntary and mandatory restrictions on regular outdoor water use and require that residents keep a log of watering days.

  • Residents who are on public water would be “urged” to water their lawns only two days a week.
  • But users of well water whose property consists of lots less than 40,000 square feet in R-20, R-15, R-10, R-10A, R-10B, R-7, R-7 SF, R-7 2F, C-R SF, C-R 2F, C-R APT TNH, N-B and O-P zones would be restricted to watering twice a week.
  • Properties with even-number addresses would be allowed to water on even days of the month, while properties with odd-numbered addresses wold be permitted to water on odd days of the month.
  • Homeowners associations would have to select one or the other.
  • Properties with irrigation systems would be restricted to two watering days per week, with watering allowed between midnight and 10 a.m.

(For more details on the ordinance, see this story.)

Regan objected to the restrictions being “advisory” for residents on public water who use hoses and sprinkler heads because, he said, it is in those situations where the most water is used.

Regan also said restricting users of in-ground irrigation systems to watering twice a week “is not necessary.”

“Irrigation systems are the most effective and efficient way to conserve water,” he said.

He also said requiring new irrigation equipment would be expensive for residents.

Regan said that while he supports the idea of water conservation, the proposed ordinance “impedes that.”

“I would ask of my fellow council members that we have the opportunity to discuss this,” he said. “I don’t believe that this is technically ready to be introduced.”

Councilwoman Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2) said Regan “brought up some issues that sound fairly substantial.”

She suggested that a small committee be formed with a deadline to bring something to the council.

In his effort to defend his ordinance, Chase pointed out that an earlier version made conservation mandatory for all residents.

“Several council members objected to it and it was defeated,” he said.

Perhaps sensing where the discussion was going, Chase said: “If a majority of council wants to set up a small committee to discuss this again, then the majority rules.”

Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) said that he felt the ordinance was basically unenforceable.

“A lot of this is about education,” he said. “An ordinance like this is to get more people to be more conscious” of water conservation.

Chase was the only council member to vote against Regan’s motion to table the ordinance and form the committee to re-work it.

The council expects to have another version to vote on by the middle of May.

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