San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 5th, 2009
Council approves watering day option

San Marcos City Councilmember Fred Terry struggled with the matter of why city residents should be allowed an extra day per week for watering their lawns. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor

San Marcos residents now have more flexibility when it comes to watering their lawns after the question once again went before the city council Tuesday night.

Last month, the city turned away a proposal giving residents optional watering days as an alternative to the one day per week allowed under Stage 2 drought restrictions. But Councilmembers Fred Terry and Pam Couch requested last week that the item be brought back for consideration, and San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz approved placing it on the agenda as an action item.

Finally Tuesday night, councilmembers voted, 6-1, to approve an optional watering day, provided that residents seeking the option through the variance process stick to that one day for a year. But the road was neither smooth nor short.

Council took up the matter for the fourth time in two months Tuesday before reaching a conclusion. In June, the council voted, 5-2, to give residents freedom to water on a weekend day if they missed their designated weekdays under Stage 2 measures. However, council then tabled the second reading. On July 7, the council voted on second reading to turn back such options by a 4-3 vote.

Terry, who voted on the prevailing side in the July 7 vote, said he wanted to reconsider the watering option because, he said, the July vote confused him.

“I was totally confused (during the last vote on water conservation),” Terry said. “I voted ‘no’ to anything and everything because I was so confused.”

Confusion reigned once again Tuesday night. Terry had to be walked through the process of amending the ordinance and providing his intent by Narvaiz after three motions and several amendments were offered by different councilmembers.

Frustration loomed deep in the councilmembers’ faces, specifically igniting Councilmember John Thomaides, who has filed his candidacy for re-election of the Place 6 seat. Thomaides has insisted throughout the process that residents should be held to one watering day per week.

“We have gone through this over and over again,” Thomaides said. “This is the third time, but every time it has failed … I don’t think it’s good policy to keep re-evaluating what has already been settled.”

Narvaiz said Terry requested that the matter be brought back, but he was for the most part unable to articulate his intent, often taking implicit cues and being spoon fed by Narvaiz. Couch exhibited similar confusion, often repeating Narvaiz’ assertions as she attempted to understand Terry’s intent.

San Marcos Director of Public Services Tom Taggart explained that a variance process does exist under the pre-existing ordinance, but cautioned that granting a variance is “unlikely.” Taggart said that under the working measure a variance can only be granted if a public safety and health concern is posed.

“I appreciate Mr. Terry bringing (water conservation) back,” Couch said. “We have to remember this is flexibility for our property owners.”

Said Porterfield, “I think our citizens deserve the flexibility. But they need to choose only one day.”

Other councilmembers expressed concern that residents would abuse optional watering days by using both their optional days and the days assigned under Stage 2 drought restrictions.

Under Stage 2 restrictions, residents are allowed one watering day per week, based on street address number. Thus, residents whose house numbers end with 0 or 1 water on Monday, those ending in 2 or 3 water on Tuesday, and so on.

However, the council began considering options in June, just when critical water levels were in decline. Opponents argued that unscrupulous types could easily use the optional day as an extra day. Thus, Thomaides motioned on July 7 that variance applicants seeking an alternate day be held to watering only on that alternate day. But Thomaides’ measure fell by a 4-3 vote.

Councilmember Chris Jones said Tuesday that he opposes allowing options to residents for watering, and made clear his position that changes to the pre-existing ordinance aren’t necessary. Jones insisted a section be added to the pre-existing ordinance allowing residents to submit a variance changing their scheduled watering day to a specific alternative and making the change permanent, allowing for only one watering day during the week.

Ultimately, the council decided to vote on first reading to permit residents a variance on their watering schedule, making the move permanent for a whole year. The measure does not allow for an optional watering day, but provides the applicant with only one watering day. That day would be catered to the applicant’s request. The measure passed with a 6-1 vote as Councilmember Gaylord Bose was the lone dissenter.

“It’s not exactly what I would want,” Terry said. “But to get this moving forward, I will accept it.”

Said Thomaides, “I thought it was a good compromise. It allows our citizens to have flexibility, but they still only have one watering day, which was my main concern.”

The city has received at least three dozen complaints this year regarding water waste, daytime sprinkling, or watering on a non-scheduled day.

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0 thoughts on “Council approves watering day option

  1. Deja vu!

    If the (simple) issue of yard watering can throw our City Council into such confusion and pandemonium,…on the third re-run.

    …then what do you think is taking place behind those closed doors in Executive Session, when the REAL business is being decided,….and another 4 or 5 million dollars of YOUR tax money is on the table?

  2. Fred Terry is a joke! He is such a puppet, I can’t wait until he’s out of office too. I’m sick and tired of having incompetent losers on the council, he should have never been elected, and it’s wise Pam Couch will not seek reelection.
    I agree with Thomaides, once something has been settled, let it be. Specially water conservation, my goodness we’re in Stage 2 drought.

  3. Im just glad to see that Fred’s original ideal of allowing citizens to water on their scheduled day and allowing the option of an alternate Weekend day, FAILED. This has Susan Narvaiz written all over it. She has been pushing for options over and over again. Do they not understand the critical point our water is at?? We’re in an extreme drought. They are disgusting! It’s official, Fred Terry and Pam Couch are nothing but puppets for the mayor. I suggest Kim Porterfield continue alienating herself from those morons.

  4. I submitted my thoughts and they did not get posted. I guess if you aren’t an “against everything” person, you don’t get published here? Not sure what’s up, but it is discouraging fors sure.

  5. Phyllis;

    That seems to imply that all of the other people that ARE being published here, are indeed “against everything” persons.

    Just to let you know,…

    I am “FOR” government transparency.

    I am “FOR” having a say as to where my city government spends my tax dollars.

    I am also “FOR” the renovation of our downtown.

    I am also “FOR” building a parking garage downtown, so that we can alleviate the CHRONIC parking problem.

    I am also “FOR” more parks and greenspace.

    I am “FOR” bikelanes.

    I am “FOR” better education.

    I am “FOR” better business opportunities in San Marcos.

    I am “FOR” a higher standard of living and better quality of life.

    I am “FOR” utilizing our resources, such as the natural charm and beauty of San Marcos, and the educational and technological resources of Texas State University, to put some of these objectives forward.

    To say that I (we) are against everything, is a mis-label.

    It might be more relevant to ask one another why these objectives seem to be addressed only as an afterthought, while other unpopular agendas seem to be pushed forward, by our City Council, in the face of significant resistance and popularly demonstrated opposition.

  6. Dave,

    You should run for City Council against Lisa Marie. I like most of what you are for. How would you suggest the City of San Marcos pay for all these items you are for? Now is your chance to have a say in our City Government. Please consider sharng your ideas as a Council Member.

  7. Hey – I was wrong. And I apologized to Bill. Apparently a computer fluke and I should not have jumped to conclusions. As to my comment, lets attribute it to the end of a long day – I actually appreciate the diversity of opinions expressed here. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t read them). Sorry Dave – it was not aimed at you.

  8. Our City Council, under its current leadership, has certainly been able to “find” the money to put toward certain favored projects, i.e. those which they deem to be important enough to actually pursue, for whatever reason. Just look at our city debt since last fall, and its overall rate of increase over the last five years. (40 million to 80 million,…and now?…..up up up….it’s staggering!)

    It is a question of political will, and priorities.

    Our council does not have the leadership nor desire to take the measures to advance these vital issues (listed above), which would serve our community well, please the voters and citizens of San Marcos, and go a long way toward solving many of our “unsolvable” problems.

    Instead, we see our council’s time being squandered on repetitive exercises, our (yes, municipal funds flagrantly spent like there is no tomorrow, and the will of the voting and taxpaying public,….ignored.

    I’m not ruling out anything, and I appreciate the nod from all of those who have spoken words of encouragement, toward a run of some sort in the future, but I am pretty sure that I’ll be sitting this one out,….and cheering from the sidelines.

    Phyllis,…I know for a fact that you work hard, and I can certainly empathize with the results of frustration at the end of a long day. No worries…on that!

  9. What thirst these tyrants have for controlling YOUR water! Those lowly residents MUST be controlled!

    But, of course, it doesn’t apply to big business like GOLF COURSES, APARTMENTS, UNIVERSITIES, etc. because after all, there are ‘variances’ the king can grant or deny to whomever of his corporate friends he pleases.

    The world has one amount of water, people. Droughts are NORMAL! What there IS, is a thirst, nay, a DELIRIUM to control YOUR water! See UN Agenda 21.

  10. Like him or not, Fred Terry is a very genuine and sincere individual. He does not need anyone coming to his defense, because I am confident that he can defend himself, but those of you who are so vehemently negative towards him, SHAME on you!

  11. Fred Terry is a moron. He is a puppet for Susan Narvaiz and he has done NOTHING productive or good while on council. His election was a sham, much like Pam Couch’s election. I hope he can defend himself, because he is going to need to do a lot of it, once all our electorate find out what kind of loser he is. My goodness, Im tired of these incompetent people running for city council just because it’s a position of power or looks good on your resume, yet do not genuinely care about this city or our community. Couch needs to get out. Terry needs to get out. And unless Porterfield continues to think for herself and not go along with the mayor says, she needs to get out too.

  12. Fred Terry was elected fair and square, no one oppesed him, and he was well respected in the community. The same with Pam Couch. Do I agree with everything they have done, no. Just because someone does something you don’t agree with does not mean they do not care about thier community.

  13. Fred Terry went unopposed because his opponent dropped out, I think it was Diaz, and I heard Terry told him that he would take strong consideration to his opinions, which is why the opponent decided to drop out. And Pam Couch was elected because both of her opponents (2 former councilmembers) dropped out of the race after the deadline for filing had gone and past. Everyone was under the impression Pam was going to have 2 opponents, but no. Larry I suggest you do a little more research before you come out with opinions that have no credibility sir.

  14. I think it is fine to be against some things and for other things. We will all have differences of opinion from time to time, but it helps to remember we are (most) all in the same community. True, if somebody only posts negative comments, after a (short) while that is not helpful. But I would not want to squelch negative comments just because they are negative. For example, I am against doling out taxpayer money to developers who want to create jobs that pay lower than our current averages. But, I am for the recent taxpayer funded incentives for Grifols. I am against mandatory microchipping of pets, and I am against weakening the integrity of our water drought stage restrictions. I am for greater transparency in our city government, and I am (a member of and) for the Chamber of Commerce and its goals to strengthen our economic vibrancy.

  15. Paul,

    I think you need to do a little more research. Fact, is, Saul Gonzales was running for the seat Fred is in. Saul really did not want to do it but decided to since no one had filed. Once Fred filed, he decided to drop out. All of this was done while there was still time for YOU to file against Fred! If you would have filed against him, then he would have had an opponent. What is the matter?? Too busy to run and be scrutinized for EVERYTHING you do? Not willing to give of yourself for your city? Come on, put your money where your mouth is and file for one of the seats up for election this time!

  16. COS yes you’re right, it was Saul Gonzales, I couldnt recall the name. Thanks for the reminder. On the other hand, I heard from an extremely reliable source that Terry and Gonzales made an agreement to have a joint seat, both would call the shots. If I felt had the appropriate time to run for council then I would. I would do it for the best interest of the city, not because someone that hides behind an alias demands I do it. Im allowed to have opinions, if you disagree, guess what, you can voice them too. We’re both afforded the same courtesy to express whatever we wish on this forum. I wouldnt run for council just to make a point, or to feel a powertrip, I would do it to provide the citizens of San Marcos a service. So please take your attacks elsewhere, like I said, Im entitled to my opinion and you are to yours. Good day sir or ma’am, dont know since you hide behind COS.

  17. I dont wish my comments to be perceive as negative. Im just fed up with these incompetent people being yes votes for Susan. I’m over that! We need people with integrity to run for office. My frustration only comes from witnessing this for far too long, but I dont wish to demean anyone personally. I just want some integrity and backbone in our elected officials, that’s all. And yes I would run myself, but time does not permit, having to commute to San Antonio for my job, and taking care of a family. If I were to run, which is not outside of my scope in the future, I will do it for the right reasons and at the right time.

  18. Attack an elected official for things they do you do not agree with. Do not attack them personally. I do not dislike Susan Narvaiz. I am sure she loves this town as much as I do. However her vision for this city and mine are in many ways different. Calling Fred Terry a moron has on place in these posts, stop it.

  19. Elected officials lend themselves to strict public scrutiny. If they can’t handle it then they should not run for office. They are our decision makers, therefore when they act like buffoons, they need to be called buffoons. Anyway, I dont know why I have to defend my opinion, when it’s not even Fred Terry moaning and groaning, it’s other morons who do not understand that public officials get scrutinized and criticized, it comes with the job! jeeze.

  20. A progressive city council would ban most landscape watering and create incentives for reduction in water usage, both commercial and residential, until the aquifer is totally recharged and the lakes are full. Such a council might also attempt to influence the university’s watering policies as well. And they might chide Dreamcatcher Ranch into not wasting so much water.

  21. I am curious of what the people of san marcos want. what would you like to be done through the city council and other gov. outlets. what can we do to help you the citizens of our great city of san marcos.

    John Nesselhauf

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