Village water restrictions eased
The temporary suspension of some outdoor water-use restrictions was affirmed Monday by the Town Council, which also extended the suspension to the island's three boat yards to allow their customers to wash boats on all weekdays through Aug. 31, effective as of this week.
The suspension - allowing the washing of boats, houses and cars by all municipal water customers on alternate weekdays - was approved July 17 by a 3-0 vote that the town's legal counsel said was valid, but some councilors disagreed. The existing water regulations specify that any relaxation of them must be approved by four of the five council members.
Town Solicitor J. William W. Harsch and Assistant Solicitor Carolyn Mannis last week ruled that a 3-0 vote represented 100 percent agreement and was superior to a 4-1 vote, represented 80 percent agreement.
However, Council President David Long said he recalled that the council, sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, said when it adopted the water regulations that it wanted a tougher standard than a simple majority (3 of 5 members) to change any regulation because the matters of water supply and water conservation were so important to residents.
"I don't like to disagree with our legal authorities, but I distinctly remember we did not want any tampering, any lifting of restrictions" without adequate consideration, Long said.
Harsch agreed another vote to affirm was in order. "So there can be no question, it would be wise to clarify and vote again."
Long also talked about his reputation as being conservative and possibly overly cautious about water use, but he said he believes the combination of circumstances and a high water level at North Pond reservoir meant "if we can't do it now with this much water, we can't ever do it."
Suspending the ban on using municipal water for outdoor washing was passed by Councilors Long, Julio DiGiando, William Kelly, and Barbara Szepatowski this week. The move was opposed by Councilman Michael Schnack because it extended the easing of rules to the boat yards. He sup ported the alternate day option for everyone, but he was against singling out marinas or any segment of the community for special treatment, Schnack said.
Schnack was concerned about other users of high amounts of water, such as plant retailers and landscapers during the summer. Kelly noted, that among others, McQuade's Supermarket, a municipal water customer, also has a well to supplement its needs for such things as the plants it sells. Szepatowski referred to high summer water needs of restaurants.
DiGiando supported the suspension this season, but worried that customers would balk at current requirements about retrofitting washing machines with water-saving devices if they saw water uses being extended.
Szepatowski and other councilors referred to this summer's unusual availability of water because of heavy rainfalls, meaning the town could benefit by selling more water through the regulation suspensions.
Because of the issues, and because of the potential changes in the water supply and related conditions, the councilors said that all future summer meetings - usually three each month - would automatically carry the water regulations as an agenda item so that they could curtail or extend suspensions as circumstances warrant. Water factors
Last week, sitting as the water and sewer board, the council and town officials, including Public Works Director Steven Goslee, had agreed that the unusual circumstances of major rainfall, a full reservoir, and general improvements to the municipal water sytem have enabled the town to relax summer water-use restrictions somewhat. Goslee cautioned, however, against a more extensive lifting of restrictions. He said even though the town seems to have an unusually large supply of water, it still does not have the capacity to treat enough water for all the extended demands by users.
The production limitations of the water treatment plant caused the council to extend washing suspensions to boat yards only on weekdays, because Goslee could not certify that the plant could deliver extended amounts of water on summer weekends, when demand has sometimes exceeded the plant's capacity.
The town is in the process of getting permits to build a new water treatment plant.
Not precedent setting
Council President Long emphasized that the temporary suspension of some regulations could not be interpreted as a cause for permanent suspension of other regulations as they relate to requests for new or modified water connections by customers. Some councilors were concerned last week and this week that the temporary suspension of restrictions on some outdoor water uses would set precedents, especially for land developers.
Temporary suspensions are different because they can be terminated, and terminated quickly, whereas actions on new or extended water connections would be permanent, Long said. The town's action on summer water restrictions "is clearly a separate issue from connection actions that once granted are for ever and can't be pulled back. It is not a conflict," he noted.
In response to Schnack's concerns about selective suspensions
of the water rules, Long said, "This is an island. There are marinas. We have to have some common sense."
Rules in effect
Nearly half of all Jamestown residents are on the municipal water system and affected by the water regulations and this summer's easing up on outdoor uses. The rules are:
+ Through Oct. 31, no lawn watering (no change).
+ Plant and garden watering, no limitations, unless the reservoir level falls significantly, and town officials announce an alternate day schedule, according to the existing regulations.
+ Through Aug. 31, boat, house and car washing by all customers is allowed on alternate weekdays, with those with properties with an even numbered street address on even days and those with an odd numbered address on odd days.
+ Through Aug. 31, boat washing at the island's three marina, any weekday.