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Turlockers exemplify stellar conservation efforts

Long before Gov. Jerry Brown declared the State of California to be in a drought emergency Turlockers have exhibited proactive conservation efforts evident by the fact that local residents use roughly the same amount of water as they did in 1997 — despite an increase in the population of nearly 20,000 residents.

According to Director of Municipal Services Michael Cooke, Turlock residents’ conservation efforts can be seen since 2011 when the City installed water meters prior to the emergency drought status. This effort, coupled with the recent hike in water rates that has locals paying on average $6 more per household each month and an increase in the number of people reporting their neighbors’ excessive use,  could contribute the longevity of locals’ low water usage.

“I think people are also really aware of the drought and heeding the City’s efforts to publicize necessary and helpful conservation measures,” said Cooke.

On Tuesday, Cooke provided City Council members an update on water usage in the City of Turlock and concluded that single family residential water use is down 18 percent since January – an effort in line with Brown’s request that citizens of California reduce their water usage by 20 percent.  Single family residential water use has also declined overall since 2013, alongside multi-family residential water use and commercial water use. However, industrial water use has increasingly risen since March.

“My guess is that food production and processing is up, which from an economic development standpoint is not a bad thing,” said Cooke on Tuesday.

Overall, Cooke added that “Turlock citizens and business are doing a very good job of conserving water.”

The City Council also received information pertaining to prospective changes that could compromise the use of Soderquist Field due to the nearby Turlock Armory’s need for additional space. Due to stationing changes within the National Guard there will be an influx in vehicles and guard units at the Turlock Armory which is located next door to the field.

 In 1960, the City of Turlock leased a five acre parcel of land to the Turlock Armory for a 99 year agreement. Several years later, the City requested to lease a portion of that land back for recreational use which has since become Soderquist Baseball Field. Initially interested in reclaiming Soderquist Field for additional space, the National Guard has proposed a plan to the City of Turlock that allows games to continue at Soderquist but closes down a portion of Alaska Street between the two facilities for additional parking. 

Parking issues are anticipated due to the Armory’s drill schedule, which typically occur on weekends and allows military personnel to park their private vehicles in the Soderquist parking lot. If necessary, Little League games could be moved to nearby facilities, such as the Regional Sports Complex or Pedretti Park, according to Director of Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Allison Van Guilder. However, the City and Armory intend to disclose schedules in advance in order to avoid unintended conflicts. While no homes are anticipated to be directly impacted by the closure of Alaska Street to accommodate the Armory’s vehicle storage, locals may need to rework their driving routes.

The arrangement is temporarily slated to last between 24 and 36 months as there are plans to complete a permanent Northern California facility which would house the additional National Guard units and equipment, though it has not been officially approved.

Van Guilder will be working with the City Engineering Department as well the National Guard to formulate an official plan that is slated to appear before the Council for a vote in November.