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Supervisor Howard’s Water Use Is 4 Times Norm : Rationing: The official plans to re-landscape her thirsty yard. John Flynn emerges as the most frugal among board members.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Supervisor Vicky Howard, who voted last week to declare a water crisis in the county, has used about four times more water than the average county resident during the last six months, according to utility records for her Simi Valley residence.

Howard said she has installed a low-flush toilet and tried other conservation measures at home, but has needed the extra water for her 20,000-square-foot yard and 22 trees. She said she plans to re-landscape her yard with drought-resistant plants.

“I’ve talked to landscapers about using my yard as a demonstration for the community on how we can redo our yards with drought-tolerant plants,” she said.

While she acknowledged that her water bills are higher than most residents’, Howard questioned the accuracy of an unusually high bill for October and November. “I’m challenging that two-month bill,” she said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

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In contrast to Howard, the top water user on the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor John K. Flynn and his family have used only about a third of the amount of water used daily by the typical county resident, according to his utility records for the past seven months.

The five family members at Flynn’s residence in Oxnard used a daily average of about 45 gallons of water per person, his utility records show. That compares to a countywide average of 128 gallons per person. Flynn’s family also used less than the daily Oxnard average of 90 gallons per person--the lowest in the county.

Flynn, co-chairman of a statewide water task force, said he and his family practice water conservation measures, such as taking shorter showers. He has also reduced by about 70% the amount of water used on his lawn.

In a survey on water rationing among top county officials, Howard emerged as the top water user and Flynn as the most frugal.

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Supervisors Maggie Erickson Kildee and Maria VanderKolk and County Chief Administrator Richard Wittenberg have water-use records close or equal to the daily countywide average. Utility records for Supervisor Susan K. Lacey are not available because she lives in a condominium complex that is served by a master water meter.

Howard’s utility records for the past six months show that she and her husband have consumed a daily average of 1,080 gallons of water--or 540 gallons per person. The average daily water use per person in Simi Valley is 128 gallons, according to water officials.

Although the Simi Valley City Council has approved a plan to fine households that exceed 624 gallons a day, the plan has not been implemented.

Howard said she believes her water bills will drop substantially once she re-landscapes her yard, which is watered by an automatic sprinkler system. The yard includes several citrus, two eucalyptus and three birch trees, she said.

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Last month, VanderKolk and her husband used a daily average of about 125 gallons of water per person, according to utility records for their Thousand Oaks home. The daily water use average in Thousand Oaks is 178 gallons per person--the highest in the county.

Erickson Kildee and her husband used a daily average of 112 gallons each during the past three months, according to utility records for their Camarillo residence.

County Chief Administrator Richard Wittenberg, who lives in Ventura with his wife and one of his three children, has used about 100 gallons a day more than the 294 gallons daily that the city allows for a family of four.

In September, however, Wittenberg obtained an extra water allotment from the city because his house has a 35,000-square-foot yard that is built on a slope and includes 34 fruit tress, according to city officials.

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The city’s rationing law allows households with large sloping yards extra water so that the grass does not dry up and become a fire hazard, said Llana Sherman, Ventura’s water conservation coordinator.

Wittenberg’s large yard and fruit trees qualified him to receive roughly double the typical 294-gallon-a-day allotment. Wittenberg’s records show, however, that he has not taken advantage of the extra allotment and has consistently used less than his limit.

Sherman said that since rationing in Ventura began in March, about 5,000 residents have submitted applications requesting a special extra water allotment. More than half of the applications were approved, she said.

Wittenberg said his family has installed a low-flow toilet and tried other rationing measures. He said he believes that most of his water goes to keep his yard green and trees alive.

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“Still, I have been within my allocation or have only used half,” he said.

The supervisors said they have tried to keep a close watch on their water consumption in recent months.

“I’ve tried to do things like rinse the dishes in a pan rather than run the water over them,” said Erickson Kildee. She added that she has disconnected the automatic timer on her yard’s sprinkler system and waters her lawn “only when I see that everything is wilting.”

Erickson Kildee said she has tried to save water by taking shorter showers and flushing the toilet less often.

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Because Lacey’s condominium does not have a yard, she said her water use is probably very low. In addition, she said, her residence has had a low-flow toilet for years.

“Actually, we’ve always been pretty good,” Lacey said, adding that her husband, Edward Lacey, does not waste water by shaving--he has a beard.

In addition to installing a low-flow toilet, Howard said she has installed water-restricting devices on all her faucets and has refrained from hosing off her driveway. She said she also only washes her car at a car-washing facility that recycles water.

Flynn said he conserves by using a bucket full of water to wash his two cars.

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Flynn said he places a bucket under the nozzle while running the shower and waiting for the water to get hot. He said he then throws the water on his plants or in the toilet.

Flynn said he and his family have been closely watching their water use for the past two years and believe they have reduced their overall consumption by about 28% between 1989 and 1990.


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