News

Menlo Park tightens water belt

City implements mandatory conservation

New water restrictions will take effect on Thursday, Aug. 28, for all customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District. Following the state's mandate, the City Council voted during its meeting last night to implement a plan that prohibits:

● Washing noncommercial vehicles unless the hose has an automatic shut-off valve.

● Filling new swimming pools.

● Running ornamental fountains unless the water is recirculated.

● Installing or expanding irrigation systems.

● Creating new water service connections without public works approval.

● Using potable water for dust control.

While the goal is to see a 30 percent reduction in water use, members of the public, as well as several council members, pointed out that requiring everyone to reduce water use by the same percentage could unfairly burden residents who already conserve water.

But the city is also working on revising its water contingency shortage plan and may opt for phased reduction targets instead of a set percentage, according to the staff. The public will be notified of any changes, which would take effect in 90 days.

City Attorney Bill McClure said the emphasis will be on enforcing penalties for wasteful use, rather than failures to meet the reduction target. The plan is "to use the kinder, gentler informative approach." Staff will also create an outreach plan to educate the public about the new water policies.

While residents also questioned the urgency of enacting the new restrictions, the city itself would face fines from the state had the council not implemented the restrictions by Thursday, Mr. McClure said.

The state mandate is in effect through the end of April, and may be extended if the drought continues, according to the city's staff.

These changes apply only to the estimated 14,100 customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District, although all agencies are required to implement restrictions. Customers of other water providers, such as Cal Water, may have slightly different regulations to follow.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm

How about following your own watering restrictions, City of Menlo Park ?

The City recently planted new trees and groundcover on the ECR center divide between Roble and Menlo Ave. (Lack of judgment City Council during our drought ?). Of course new plantings require frequent watering.

The watering system now does a GREAT job of watering both sides of ECR about 7am. At least it was a few days ago.

Here, we have brown lawns and didn't grow a garden. So the City of MP can show off its greenery ?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm

How about we stop stuffing more and more people into Menlo Park? Dial back on the development!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Let's stay on topic, please.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Why are new spec houses and remodels allowed to be putting in large areas of rollout turf that require huge amounts of water? Starting landscaping from scratch is the perfect time to install a low water-use garden. Might the planning commission add such a requirement to building plans? Climate science clearly indicates that low water and drought is the new normal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Concerned citizen:

you are correct. However, residential uses in this state amount to only 20% of water demand. the vast majority of water goes to agriculture. Agriculture that WASTES water at an incredible rate. I'll worry about my water use when we do something about the wasteful uses by agriculture in this state.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Menlo Voter
And of course you've pledged not to eat any California agricultural products (like fruit, vegies, nuts, grains, fowl, pig, lamb, wine, beef) for the duration of the drought. If you get hungry, I suppose you can always eat your words.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

whatever:

if CalAg comes around to realistic water usage and it costs me more money, so be it. The fact is they are the primary wasters of water in this state. Residential attempts at water use reduction are spit in the ocean. Start with the primary water wasters first then come talk to the rest of us.

My water bill was $50 last month. Somehow I don't think cutting my water usage by 10 or 20 percent is going to mean diddly in the grand scheme.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

Residents are going to need better guidance about how well or poorly they are doing as individuals, more like what is possible for electricity usage. The new standards are just a start, it's likely going to get a lot harder, so improved data and communication are essential.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Menlo Voter, d'accord; I'm in agreement with you. Googling data for water use suggests that agriculture represents even more than 80% while residential use is approximately 10%. If all us residents stopped using water entirely, it would make very little difference to California's shrinking water supply.

On another aspect of this problem, see: Web Link " A typical golf course requires 100,000 to 1,000,000 gallons (378.5 m3 to 3,785 m3) of water per week in summer to maintain healthy vegetation." "Water audits performed across the country suggest that many golf courses use 20% to 50% more irrigation water than necessary." There are 1,126 golf courses in California. You know how dry it is in the San Bernadino, Palm Desert area where there are scores of golf courses? Have you seen how lovely the sprayed water looks against a dark blue sky at twilight? Well, that's the tip of the actual water problem iceberg, so to speak!

While some farms have invested in drip and (Israeli) below ground watering systems, many continue to spray vast amounts of water into the air where it vaporizes. Drive through the Central Valley and watch those elevated pipes on huge wheels slowly roll over plowed fields with their sprayers going.

Rice is among the most water-intensive crops in agriculture. California has 556,000 acres of it. Here's what a rice expert had to say about it: "If rice prices are low, farmers may decide it's more attractive to sell their water than to plant rice." Why is that? Because agriculture in California has extremely low water cost arrangements forever that make capital-intensive water restrictions highly unlikely.

We are being scammed by the government's pressure on residents to restrict water use. Yes, it's certainly a good idea not to waste it. It will surely become more precious than oil in the next decades. But it is outrageous to put the onus and pressure on the 10%-use residential population and not on the other 90%.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Knock Knock!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Has anyone at Public Works or Water Dept thought to do water/sewer line inspections since the recent 6.1 earthquake? Remember we live in a seismic hot spot zone! . .gee remember the headquarters for the entire USGS Earthquake Authority is in Menlo Park which is atop the San Andreas fault line. Anyone home at the Water Dept?


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