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Panel will look for ways to save water

MEDFORD — An ad hoc city committee will search for ways the city can conserve water.

The Water Conservation and Landscape Committee will establish new irrigation guidelines for commercial, industrial and multifamily residential development within the city limits. City Planner Desmond McGeough said the guidelines would be voluntary for new single-family residences.

The City Council will review the committee recommendations and could adopt the new standards later this year.

McGeough said there could be exceptions for some projects.

"We recognize there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, but we would like to work as closely to the guidelines as possible in most cases," he said. "We understand there are issues like lot restrictions and other special circumstances."

Dave Searcy, a member of the committee, said he was eager to see the city encourage water conservation in new development.

Searcy, a sales representative for United Pipe & Supply, said he had been teaching classes about efficient water use and preaching water conservation for two decades.

He said he hoped the committee could establish guidelines that would bring smarter development and landscaping plans that require minimal amounts of water.

"Realistically we would love to shoot for a high percentage of reduction but the reality is that residential (development) uses way more (water) than commercial and industrial," Searcy said.

"But this is one small step towards better guidelines to reducing wasted water," he said. "We just want people to start thinking about what it is they're wasting."

The Water Conservation and Landscape Committee meets from 4 to 5:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St., Medford.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.