Spokane mayor opposes water restriction ordinance, calls it ‘punitive’

Photo by Mani Sankar on Unsplash

SPOKANE, Wash – An ordinance that would limit how much people in Spokane water their lawns does not have the support of the city’s mayor.

Mayor Nadine Woodward wrote a letter to the council Monday calling it punitive, just hours before the councilors are set to vote.

The ordinance was proposed by Council Member Lori Kinnear.

It prohibits people from outdoor watering between 9 am and 6 pm between June and October.

If the Spokane River drops below 1,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), people would be limited to watering just two days a week.

People who don’t follow the rules would be fined $20 for the first violation, doubling after that.

PAST COVERAGE: Spokane City Council considering ordinance that could restrict when you water your lawn

The council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance Monday night.

Mayor Woodward said she had concerns about the “punitive nature of this approach.”

“I would like to have seen a greater emphasis put on potential incentives,” Mayor Woodward wrote. “Council Member Cathcart has proposed such an alternative and his approach is worth exploring.”

Council Member Cathcart is introducing his replacement idea, which focuses on education and incentives instead of enforcement, at a council briefing Monday afternoon.

Woodward’s letter focused, in part, on the “potential reliance on citizen-led reporting for non-compliance.”

“We should not foster a system in which we encourage conflict within our community,” Woodward said. “Families are struggling to financially recover from the pandemic… penalizing water usage and turning neighbors against each other will do more harm than good.”

She ended the letter saying she supports the council’s efforts to reduce water consumption, but encourages the incentive-based route instead.