Editorial: It's a drought, don't water the pavement

July 8, 2020
Editorial: It's a drought, don't water the pavement

Bulletin Editorial Board

The details of Bend’s recently announced water curtailment alert are straightforward and don’t require anyone in Bend to do anything differently. The “Stage 1” alert is just to remind people to be responsible about water use.

But does the city do enough to enforce its own water regulations for city water customers?

You don’t have to strain to find sprinklers seeming to do a better job of watering pavement than grass. Or to find sprinklers running in the middle of a summer day. Both those things can be a violation of the city of Bend’s code. Violations are a Class B civil infraction and carry a maximum civil penalty of $400.

With the pandemic and the terrible economic disruption, we don’t want to see city staff running around fining homeowners and businesses. In Bend, though, the city hasn’t fined people for breaking the water use rules, according to Dan Denning, the city’s water conservation manager. That was true even before the pandemic.

The rules have many details and caveats. The basics are:

  • No irrigation 9 a.m. — 5 p.m.
  • Even addresses irrigate on even days
  • Odd addresses irrigate on odd days
  • Zero sprinkler overspray and runoff

Denning told us when the city receives a complaint or city staff notices a problem, they follow up. The city contacts the property owner or manager and let’s them know about the concern and the rules.

The city’s website says: “Repeat violations will lead to a fine.” Denning said in an email fines have not been necessary, and “I do not see the need to administer fines in the near future as long as our educational efforts are effective.”

Sounds reasonable.

Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties are now, though, under a drought declaration. Bend did not have to implement any further restrictions on water use even during the record drought in 2015. The city does not anticipate any shortages this year.

But you can help. Check your sprinklers. Make sure you are following the rules and don’t overwater. The water supply in the Deschutes Basin isn’t bottomless.

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