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City water restrictions curb water usage

By Brian Cuaron
July 19, 2011 at 2:19 a.m.

CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU FUNDS IN ONE ACCOUNT, 7 MANAGER APPLICANTSCity staff has transferred the Convention and Visitors Bureau's funds into one account.

Victoria finance director, Gilbert Reyna, Jr., said that while under the Chamber of Commerce, the bureau had its funds in four accounts: Three in First National Bank and one in the TDECU credit union.

The funds were transferred to a temporary Wells Fargo account until the city officially takes over the bureau on Aug. 1.

The city council had its second and third readings on Tuesday on creating a city division for the bureau.

Reyna said it didn't cost the city anything to transfer the funds.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett said seven people have applied to become the bureau's manager.

O.C. Garza, director of communications, said staff was looking at making adjustments to the bureau's marketing strategy as it budgets for the next fiscal year.

He said the bureau's staff would move into the city's 700 Main St. building next week. It would be next door to Garza's office.

He added that staff was shooting for installing a visitors center with extended hours.

NEW TREE-TRIMMING REQUIREMENTResidents are now responsible for cutting tree limbs that overhang on city streets.

Doug Cochran, parks and recreation director, presented the plan to the city council on Tuesday. He said afterward that this change was because of budget constraints and because it was the right thing to do.

Before, the city had a $35,000 budget with which it trimmed overhanging trees. The city would still trim trees in the right-of-way areas, and those that block the view of stop signs.

The city has received five to 10 complaints a week about overhanging tree limbs, Cochran said.

When the city receives a complaint, it will visit the resident, followed with a letter the next business day. If the resident doesn't fix the problem in 14 days, the city or a contractor will cut the limbs and the resident would be billed, Cochran said.

Mayor Will Armstrong pushed for residents to have 14 days to correct the problem. Staff had recommended 10 days.

Water usage has gone down after Victoria implemented mandatory restrictions a little more than a week ago.

The city implemented Stage 2 of its drought contingency plan on July 7. That included some mandatory water restrictions, which were last enacted in 2009.

Lynn Short, director of public works, told the Victoria City Council that compared to mid-June, residents have reduced their water-use by 16 percent.

Although there were other factors, Short credited the restrictions for helping bring that water-usage down.

Stage-2 restrictions were triggered when the city wasn't allowed to draw from the Guadalupe River when its water flow got too low.

So the city is now depending on its 10 water reservoirs as well as its water wells. Yet the city is only using three of its reservoirs since the rest aren't interconnected.

The city would have to use pumps to use the other seven reservoirs, Short said.

He added that Victoria had begun a study on how to interconnect the reservoirs and how much it would cost.

"I anticipate it'd be expensive," Short said.

The flow must be 300 cubic feet per second for the city to draw from the Guadalupe River in July. Short said the flow was around around 200, and that it didn't look like the city would revert back to voluntary water restrictions soon unless a tropical storm occurred.

Yet he said that the city wasn't anticipating immediately going into Stage 3 of its drought contingency plan, either. That would occur when the reservoirs reach 50-percent capacity.

Short also presented the council with a street inventory report. It rated the city's streets, and he said that the overall rating increased from the last inventory completed in 2009.

Mayor Will Armstrong said that he wouldn't support a tax decrease as long as residential streets remained in their current condition. He said bad streets could bring down property values.

"That's the backbone of the city's tax base," Armstrong said.



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