Olivehurst Issues Thousands Of Water Fines In 2015

Jan 6, 2016

Olivehurst Public Utility District conserved nearly 45 percent this last November — and issued more than 4,000 fines last year.
Credit OPUD

New data out from the California Water Resources Control Board shows overall the state missed its 25 percent November conservation mandate but is on track overall. Amid all the numbers one North State water district stands out, but it wasn’t for how much water it used.

Between March and November of last year, the Olivehurst Public Utility District issued 4,358 fines — by far the most in the Sacramento Valley Hydrologic Region.

Yuba City assessed about 650 fines during that time; Chico, only 22. Redding issued more than 900 warnings, but issued no fines.

Tim Shaw, General Manager of OPUD, clarified that many residents addressed leaks and other inefficiencies, and had their penalties lifted. But when the order came down from the state to conserve water, they weren’t messing around — they began issuing $25 administrative fines.

“Yeah, it’s either they conserve, or we have to pay $10,000 a day,” he said.

There were more than 1,000 fines assessed per month in June, July and August of last year in the district — that’s roughly one out of every six customers in each of those months.

But the heavy fees seemed to have driven home the message, he said, even now that OPUD has stopped assessing them.

“The penalties are suspended but the conservation continues,” he said. The data show that in November, OPUD customers conserved nearly 45 percent — surpassing their 36 percent reduction mandate.  

For most of the North State, average daily per capita water use for November was about 80 gallons. Olivehurst used 105. Cal Water Oroville and Marysville had the lowest use, at about 60 gallons per day.