News

Governor's water-reduction mandate could hit hard locally

Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley's per capita water use greatly exceeds Bay Area average

Gov. Jerry Brown's new order to reduce water consumption by 25 percent could have an unusually high impact on local households.

In his order, the governor told water regulating authorities that service areas with greater per capita use should "achieve proportionally greater reductions than those with low use."

In 2013, the Bay Area averaged 79 gallons of water per person per day, according to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency. But Portola Valley's average in 2013 was 305 gallons per person per day, Woodside's was 421 gallons and Atherton's was 480 gallons, according to data from the California Water Service Company.

Cal Water, a private company with headquarters in San Jose, supplies water to many cities and towns, including Portola Valley, Woodside, Atherton and parts of Menlo Park.

In Menlo Park, in neighborhoods served by the Menlo Park Municipal Water District, usage was 88.5 gallons per person per day for 2013, and usage dropped to 78 gallons per person for 2014, according to Pam Lowe, a civil engineer for the district.

The 2013 numbers for Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley are the latest available. Cal Water releases usage data only if a town official requests it.

The Almanac obtained additional data on Woodside's Cal Water customers. Between 450 and 500 single-family households used more than 75,000 gallons of water per month from June to August of 2013. That number jumped to nearly 600 households in September and remained high until December.

The data showed 17 percent of Woodside households used more than 67,500 gallons per month in 2013.

Getting specific

The governor's order requires golf courses, cemeteries and campuses to immediately reduce potable water use by 25 percent. The Department of Water Resources, acting with local agencies, must lead a statewide effort to replace 50 million square feet of lawn and ornamental landscaping with drought-tolerant alternatives.

But while the governor has set a state-wide use reduction target, his order does not say how the reductions will be allocated by water suppliers, water districts, and users.

The implementation plan will come from the state's Water Resources Control Board, which regulates public water agencies, and the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates private water companies. The governor directs the water board to act, but requests that the utilities commission follows suit.

"The million dollar question is what's going to happen as a result of the governor's proclamation," said Dawn Smithson, manager of Cal Water's Bear Gulch district, in referring to the implementation specifics. "All your questions are pretty much my questions, too," Ms. Smithson told the Almanac.

The Bear Gulch district consists of Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City. Some water systems may have to cut back by more than 25 percent, Ms. Smithson said.

There is local attention being paid. The Portola Valley Town Council will discuss the governor's order at its April 8 meeting. In Menlo Park, the City Council is expected to talk about it in May, and the Woodside Town Council may also, Woodside Town Manager Kevin Bryant said.

Will Woodside be asking for 2014 usage data? Mr. Bryant said he didn't think so. "(The big users) know who they are. People are very protective of their privacy," he said. "At this point, I don't see that it's something that we need to do our job."

Heavy users represent the best potential for reduction, he said, adding that he is more interested in a cooperative effort with Cal Water. "They know their customers and what it would take for them to reduce."

Portola Valley's Water Conservation Committee met with Cal Water recently and is preparing requests for data, Town Manager Nick Pegueros said. He will be going over the list with Brandi de Garmeaux, the town's sustainability and special projects manager, before submitting it to Cal Water, he said.

Menlo Park's water district implemented several restrictions in 2014: Potable water cannot be used to wash down driveways or sidewalks absent a health or safety concern, nor can it be used for irrigation if it runs off onto non-irrigated areas. Ornamental fountains must use re-circulated or recycled water. Hoses must have shut-off valves when washing vehicles. Restaurants and other food service operations can serve water to customers, but only upon request.

The Atherton City Council adopted a water-efficiency ordinance for new landscaping in 2010. The ordinance regulates plantings on steeper slopes, the use of mulch, smart irrigation systems, irrigation hours, fountain water, and the use of native or low- or no-water plants.

Holbrook-Palmer Park, the town's major public user of water, is irrigated with well water unsuitable for drinking, said Public Works Superintendent Steven Tyler. As for household reductions, Atherton will be taking its lead from Cal Water, City Manager George Rodericks said.

Towns don't control water use, but can impose regulations that have the effect of reducing water use, such as adding conditions to building permits and conditional use permits that require water-efficient landscaping.

The governor is requiring that new homes and buildings employ drip or micro-spray irrigation technology when using potable water. A related requirement prohibits irrigating "ornamental turf" on median strips on public streets with potable water. Plans for private lawns may come under local scrutiny.

The governor is ordering the 25 percent reductions based on 2013 usage. Conscientious residents have been conserving for years. Can they cut further? "This has always been a concern," Ms. Smithson of Cal Water said. It's not clear how finely tuned the rules will be. Cal Water's website will be a resource, she said.

Comments

24 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 7, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Alan is a registered user.

"Conscientious residents have been conserving for years. Can they cut further?" Uh, 75,000 gallons per month is not being conscientious.

My wife and I were curious to see what we used a couple days ago, we really didn't have any idea ... it amounted to 50 gallons per day for both of us. We have low-water landscaping, efficient washer and dishwasher, shower instead of taking baths (but don't worry about keeping it unusually short). We're not doing anything extreme (no, none of that "let it mellow" stuff.)

I think Woodside and Atherton can make adjustments and be A-OK. Really, you can live on 56,250 gallons per month. I know you can do it.


10 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm

The question is can you live on 75 gallons a day...a 25% cut on your 100 gallons a day? If the cuts are across the board 25% from 2013, people like you and me who have done the "right" things to conserve will be "punished". Hopefully there will be a more equitable way to apply the 25% figure...but I'm not holding my breath.


8 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Oops sorry...Alan. Your water use if cut by 25% would be 37.5 gallons a day! I don't think you should have to live on such a small amount when others are using so much more. Watering acres of lawn no doubt.


13 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm

really? is a registered user.

And of course while cycling in the rain this morning, I passed bright green lawns along Willow past Sunset with their sprinklers in full blast.

Name and Shame!


4 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Alan is a registered user.

retired teacher - if the water district comes after us to punish us for not reducing further, that would be absurd. I can not imagine this happening. Our water bill is about $20/month, in any case... what would they do? Raise it to $40? I don't care. We're using 25 gallons per person (We could cut that 6.25 gallons per person per day, if we really *had* to, not impossible at all. I hope my complacency doesn't come off as irresponsible.)

On the other hand - can someone drop from 79 gallons per day to 59 gallons per day (25% reduction of the average person). Of course they can. It makes more sense to go after the "big fish", but 59 gallons per day is enough for long showers.


6 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 7, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Alan is a registered user.

By the way - perhaps the best way to improve conservation is to make the tiers really extreme; i.e., hit the high water users significantly harder, and, perhaps, pay people who keep their usage below a rather low threshold. It could be like a dividend; for every gallon of water below a very low per person threshold you save, cash back from the water department. Sure, it might not amount to more than a few bucks, but there's something about the psychology of "cash back" that gets people to respond. (For us, $20, $40, nothing per month - this isn't a major expense, so I don't personally care, but some people might.) It's the same idea as pollution or carbon credits (although water is easier to track.) Even in that situation, some people are going to be indifferent about their usage; that's a way to put that indifference to its best use.


18 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:09 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

Seems as though the water district should be able to meet quotas by requiring the water guzzlers in Woodside, Portola Valley, and Atherton to cut back by 1/3 and allowing us in Menlo Park to keep our 78 gallons of water. I know it will be hard for Athertonians to get by on only 300 gallons/person but should I have to sacrifice my shower so that their acres of landscaping remain green?


5 people like this
Posted by acomfort
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Some thoughts.
Asking people to cut back 25% will mostly affect the water use that others can see such as, washing cars, watering front lawns etc.
It will do little for long showers, frequent baths, running water in the sink unnecessarily, backyard watering or flushing more than necessary . . . and who decides what is necessary?

The problem I am describing is best understood by reading about "The Tragedy of the Commons." Web Link
or Web Link

We need a system that makes each person benefit by how much water they save.

One example: For residential use, raise the water rates to double what they are now and rebate the surplus funds equally to each residence. Those that use less water come out ahead at the expense of those who use lots of water per residence.
If this saved water but not enough then raise then triple the water rates and send bigger rebates to those who used less.

I think this concept is valid but the details need lots of work.
Maybe the rebates should be per person instead of per residence.

People in apartment houses should come out good and maybe they should.

Could the same system be used for businesses? I think so, but the water use requirements are very different for each type of business and some allowance would have to be made, maybe using their historical water use or comparing to other similar businesses.

For farms double the price of water and then the rebate could be per acre?

I would like to see a rationing system where we don't need to care about our neighbors water use and with the right incentives and/or disincentives it can be done. I hope!

I think we need something besides a voluntary system and hopefully someone will think of a fair system that can be implemented soon.


10 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm

really? is a registered user.

We should all save water by showering with someone else


12 people like this
Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Our culture is simply going to have to change, so that we will see big green lawns as "ugly" and "wasteful". Feel free to embarass your friends, businesses, buildings, etc. who have green lawns.


4 people like this
Posted by someone who loves great food
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:42 pm

The first area of that should be dissected from the drought equation should be Vanity usage:

> I am all for the everyman/every-woman with a perfect hygiene, that bathes/showers, brushes their teeth, flushes the toilet/urinal, gargles, spits-out---then re-rinses, re-rinses their hair, cleans their ears, removes their pimple wash, and then uses a water bristle tooth brush to remove extra plaque, but there are corners in this that need to be cut:

>> Controlled Baths:

I didn't mention showers because, and quite unfortunately, showers use a ton of water. I've found myself thinking about my job and other things and all the sudden 10 minutes have passed by. While many people do not have hot tubs either, often the shower acts as their pressured rub down.

Picture a button that says "Bath" above the bathtub faucet (with a temperature). The bather presses the button and an exact amount of water is pumped into the tub. While this happens the bather can go and get their breakfast or if at night, other things ready, with the confidence that the tub will not overflow. After the tub is used, the bath water can be drained normally. However, there could be another button that says " Re-Filter Water". The water is then drained but instead goes through a filtering system. The next time someone presses "Bath", the re-filtered water is re-used. I am guessing this will be a one-time thing as the ref-filtered water may not be nearly as clean the third time.

>> National Drought Relief Tax & Donation

States who have abundant amounts of water will have a new required tax that would pay for the shipment and packaging of bottled or tanked water that is exported out of their state to California. This will also enforce a national effort on this crisis instead of passing the message: "Oh California, is too expensive to live in and look they are the most thirsty people in America".

>> No more lawns, just rubber sidewalks and walkways

Who has or hasn't seen the many rubber sidewalks along Alameda de las Pulgas? I am surprised they aren't all over the place in the City (SF) because of how comfortable they are to walk on- and how environmentally efficient they are for trees and their roots.

>> Plants can be potted or existing trees. Lawns can be artificial. Dog parks can still be dog parks.

>> More Dog -Doo Receptacles, and trash enforcement
Why you say? Do you ever consider what happens after dog poop sits in a bag on the street (or without a bag), or when trash does the same for months on end? Eventually someone has to wash it off. While that may sound minimal consider the impact it has on street sweeping, on joggers hopping over it to then have to re-quench their thirst because of the burned 5 calories. Every little thing amounts to water loss.

>> Joggers should carry water spritzers and not bottled or thermos water.

Though we all know plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, they are always convenient and re-usable when they are supposedly not meant to be. The concern is that whenever we as joggers drink there is a high-chance that we will return that to the environment soon through a flush. What if we could just carry spritzer bottles (with the Windex sprayer)?

>> What other ideas do you have?


4 people like this
Posted by someone who still likes great food, but sometimes gets thirsty
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:51 pm

- and I bet the rubber sidewalks would do wonders for dogs and horses with Arthritis.


13 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I really support individual responsibility in this crisis. Things won't change without it. But the idea that we are going to climb out of this by shaming neighbors who are watering larger lawns is simply misplaced.

Here's why.

Less than 20% of California's overall water usage is direct by the individual. At least 80% results from agriculture use which indirectly translates into individual use.

My daughter recently brought this into sharp relief by this example -- if she gives up eight hamburgers in a year (saving approximately two pounds of beef production or 3,200 gallons of water), she would be responsible for conserving as much water as if she went without showering all year.

Just look at the numbers above -- Bay Area Water usage average is 28,835 per year. Yet Bay Area residents also consume approximately 270 pounds of beef each year, resulting in 433,120 gallons of water per capita to produce that beef.

(For those wondering about grains and vegetables, the contrast is stark -- 102 gallons of water to produce one pound of grain; average consumption of 200 pounds; requires 20,400 gallons of water per capita per year or grain consumption.)


8 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Personal usage matters, because different places get their water from different sources. I don't think much Hetch-Hetchy or Crystal Springs water or San Mateo county groundwater goes to agricultural uses, even though agriculture dominates in the state. That's our supply.


8 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I think part of the issue is getting the information and data. It is very hard to figure out your consumption, and unless people have an awareness of that, how do you expect them to calibrate reductions?

First issue is finding your bill. Unlike my other utility ebills, which have some sort of total numbers both of consumption and $ amount, the email I get monthly has neither, just a link to some cryptically named website called "gwfathom". In fact, it doesn't even say who it is from ("webmaster"?) or even that it *is* a water bill -- the word "water" does not appear, and so how are you supposed to search for it? The whole thing could not look more like a phishing come-on if they tried.

Next problem is once you get to the website, there is very limited info on what you used. There is a Usage History tab, but all it has is monthly total usage for the last seven months. I can't even compare to the same period last year, and certainly not to the 2012 baseline that I believe is under consideration for restrictions.

Then they show usage in whole "CCF" which is apparently hundreds of cubic feet. Why not use some standard units that you can relate to for household use like gallons or liters? The other problem with whole CCF is the granularity of the measure: if it says I used 2 CCF one month and 3 CCF another, I don't know whether they rounded the figure, truncated it or what, and in which of the two months I actually used more water.

Compare this to PG&E (for all its other faults). I can see right away in the bill how much electricity I used last month, and if I go to the website, I can see my usage hour by hour, as well as day by day and month by month. I can tell when we switched the lights on in the morning and pretty much what I cooked for dinner! I can go back years, and I can even download reports in Excel that, if I were so inclined, I could slice and dice as I liked.

I think if people knew what they were using, they could manage water consumption better. Suppose for example you saw water was being drawn in the middle of the night, and you knew no-one was up? You probably just found a leak.


4 people like this
Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Having conserved since the drought of 1987 with drippers careful use all around, people who have done the right thing for years will be asked to do the same as those who have liberally used sprinklers for their lawns.
WE have a hot water circulating system so the waste waiting for hot water is minimal. People without a circulator will be wasting a lot for every time they need hot water. Asking for a glass of water at a restaurant is a PR reminder only and will save little.
-One rule fits all will be misapplied.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When it comes to regulation simplicity and equity are mortal enemies.

The 25% reduction rule is very simple and very inequitable.


1 person likes this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Let's not forget that one hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.

L.A. TIMES, "To make a burger, first you need 660 gallons of water ..."

Web Link

Catanese, Christina. “Virtual Water, Real Impacts.” Greenversations: Official Blog of the U.S. EPA. 2012.

Web Link

“50 Ways to Save Your River.” Friends of the River.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:14 pm

And, 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1 lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.

“Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Gardez l'eau
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm

So I suppose French cheese (made with their water) is the way to go?


1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Just raise the price. It's as simple as that. Maybe double or triple it depending on the severity of the drought.

You can have a carve out for the first 100 gallons if you're worried about poor people dying of thirst (an absurd concern, but one that keeps coming up).

Ideally, we'd also raise the price for farmers to match. Currently, we are essentially subsidizing them to waste water.


15 people like this
Posted by Water everywhere
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm

3/4's of the planet is covered by water. Ponder that fact for just a moment. Now combine that fact with a couple of other facts that are always ignored. Too many people in the state combined with the fact that NOTHING has been done by the elected and appointed officials of this state to increase storage capacity, improve our reservoirs or even take care of the few that we have. Once again you are being sold down the river only this time the river is running dry. Kill your lawns , don't flush your toilet, shower once a week with a bucket, wear dirty clothes,stop eating eggs, hamburgers and cheese. Gee the first place I go to for facts is the LA Times. Proof positive liberalism is a mental disorder.Why not just curl up and die? The problem will not go away until the REAL ISSUES are addressed. Until then, you will simply be forced to give up more and more, sacrifice more and more. Hand King Jerry a shovel and tell him to get to work. He's been Governor once and didn't do anything, He is elected governor a second time by a feel good populous and we are issued a decree. We are once again faced with a government that is only capable of chicken little crisis management elected by a uniformed, lazy electorate. Wake up California, we are way passed the point of personal sacrifice. Maybe next winter we can do a nationwide coast to coast swap, the people on the East Coast can come here and take a break from water and snow and we can move to the East Coast and eat hamburgers,cheese, eggs and read the New York Times while we make snow angels during the blizzards. Green is the new Brown. No thanks Jerry.


5 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm

@Water everywhere -- You're one of those people who uses 75,000 gallons of water a month, am I right?


5 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm

James...gwfathom.com is the City of Menlo Park Municipal Water billing address...rather an odd name. Anyway I get a paper bill from them with a bar graph showing a year of consumption. I can see what I used in CCFs (one CCF is equal to 748 gallons) from March 2013 to March 2014. I agree with you that if the water companies don't provide consumption information a consumer doesn't have a clue about their usage. Also..I believe the year the reduction will be based on is 2013 not 2012.


9 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Fracking uses 70 million gallons of water a year, yet is exempt from the 25% mandate. Almond farmers us 1.1 Trillion gallons of water, yet are also exempt……. So not serving ice wate at restaurants as a serious effort to save the State. Really?

I think Jerry B needs to think more about his constiuents in Oakland than that lobbying crowd in Sacramento and Bakersfield.


6 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:54 pm

and I hate note being able to edit typos!


7 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Forcing only residents -- and not Big Ag and Big Business -- to conserve is stupid and cruel. That will do little to deal in a realistic and wise manner with this horrible drought (which is just a return to the old normal of past millennia).

One huge elephant in the bedroom is fracking, It uses millions of gallons of drinkable water -- which is made so polluted in the process that becomes completely unusable. ALL fracking must STOP -- NOW.

About Hetch Hetchy water: I am sorry to report that some does get used by Big Ag, before it even gets anywhere near Crystal Springs Reservoir, and I think some is used to water the turf in Levi Stadium -- which is not exactly essential for human survival.

Yes, we each need to do what we can, but the actions of the few who control Big Ag and Big Business and Big Government will dwarf any efforts made by ordinary people, if those who control Big Ag and Big Business and Big Government do not choose to make responsible and wise decisions about how water is used and stored in this beautiful state.





7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 8, 2015 at 8:50 am

Where is the balance between the need for a better infrastructure and available resources.

We're in a drought and we're building more housing, office complexes, etc. which will all use more water. We complain about the traffic and cutting our water use yet applaud new construction and the adding of housing and more businesses.

Cutting water consumption is only part of the solution. Finding alternative water resources needs to be looked at.

You can't keep expecting people to cut their usage while you're adding to the number of people who will consume it.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 8, 2015 at 9:02 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Desalination. There's an ocean of water out there. Australia did it to deal with there 10+ year drought. There's one about to come on line in San Diego.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Cal Water User
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Today in the Chronicle's article on water restriction plans it singled out the Cal Water Bear Gulch district for a proposed 35% reduction because of high water usage in Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside AND Menlo Park. As we all know from local statistics, Menlo Park falls into the average to moderate water usage akin to other such cited areas as Palo Alto. Here's hoping our local City Council and other concerned parties will work with Cal Water to recognize this gross discrepancy in usage between the guzzlers and the more modest users of water. Equity requires refinement in the application of the reduction guidelines among these very different Cal Water jurisdictions and customers.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We have reduced our water usage by almost 60% by replacing our entire lawn with artificial turf.

Web Link

And our next step will be to look at the remainder of our landscaping to see where else we can save.

Personally I favor a very rapidly escalating tiered pricing system just like the ones already used for electricity. The baseline price can be quite low for small quantities and then really increase the price for higher level users.


2 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Menlo Cal Water User...I'm not sure what local statistic you are referring to. There are at least three water districts that serve Menlo Park which the Chronicle neglected to note. The Almanac article above refers to the City Municipal District having cut its usage from 88 gallons per person per day to 78.5. This district serves about 14,000 Menlo residents. I don't see any figure for the usage of Menlo Park residents who get water from the California Water District. You almost certainly did use much less than most residents of Portola Valley, Woodside, and Atherton who share the Bear Gulch part of the Cal Water District with you. Sincerely hope you don't get lumped in with the 67,000 gallons a month crowd!


3 people like this
Posted by I'm with Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 8, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Cutting water usage is pretty hard as long as we increase local population density. Stop permitting new housing developments! Oh, I forgot, Menlo Park is especially greedy among local towns for the developer fees. Atherton likes them too.
Do we need Pollock's proposed 64 room boutique hotel @ Glenwood & El Camino? Is there parking for 64 cars? Is there room on our local thoroughfares or more cars?
How about a moratorium on any new swimming pools? No new water features in commercial buildings & shut off the ones that are running now.
Some of us have been very frugal in our water use for a long time & we'll be penalized for that conservation.
Why will residents of Palm Springs be exempt from the mandate, along with that all important ag crop, DATES? Probably to keep the politicos favorite golf courses green. Will MPCC & MCC have to cut back?
I want to conserve. I was born here. The exceptions to the mandates are the problem.
Do O'Connor Water District users get cut back too?


4 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 9, 2015 at 5:49 am

I'm With Bob...have linked an interesting interactive map. Click on the dots and you can see the name of the water company, the number of users, the amt of water used per day, and the percentage of the reduction required. I cannot find the O'Connor Tract however.

On new development...I share a water district with Facebook, Gateway, Anton Apartments etc...how's that going to work? Thousands of new customers.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:47 am

when the water is measured in Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton & Menlo Park do the "poweres that be" take into considderation that Menlo Park had many apartment dwellers who don't use the same amount of water that a residence does?
Also, there are little to no businesses or offices In PV, Woodside, & Atherton so the amount of water is mostly going to residental uses. That doesn't mean we are wasteful


4 people like this
Posted by Mark Toshland
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 9, 2015 at 7:37 am

Just a note of frivolity..........I'm reminded of Sally Stanford, infamous madame of Russian Hill, and later mayor of Sausalito and owner of that town's Vahalla Restaurant. When we had water shortages in the late '70's there were inspectors going around to restaurants to issue fines if the restaurants offered water to anyone who hadn't asked for water. Sally Stanford actually said (per Herb Caen): "If they come nosing around my place, I'll poison the bastards".


7 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Alan is a registered user.

@neighbor - while the number of apartment dwellers may be low, I have to say: there's no question these neighborhoods are wasteful. We live in a single family home, and use 50 gallons per day, with no significant inconvenience, due to a handful of key choices we made. People don't need to get down to that level, but they should, at least, cut 25% if their numbers are high. (You could also argue that one of the key choices someone could make is whether to live in a condo or a single family home; someone could live in an upscale condo and be very water efficient; it's very simple. But if someone doesn't want to make that sort of compromise, they should consider other compromises. People have the freedom to choose their compromises to achieve water reduction; but they shouldn't have the choice to ignore it altogether.)


4 people like this
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Sharon Heights Country Club should go back through the City with their plan to pump water from the aquifer. That would go a long way towards reducing the district's demands on Hetch Hetchy water and would use water that ends up draining back into the bay anyway.

San Francisco Water and most environmentalists wanted the plan approved but the emotional anti golf folks persuaded the council to vote against it.


11 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Sharon Heights Country Club should drill a well on their own land and use that water.


3 people like this
Posted by Bobby B
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

You're all a little off. The average Woodside/Atherton parcel size is 1 acre. That property, if in RWC or MP would hold 6-8 homes. If each of those homes used say 100 gals per day, how is that much different from Atherton/Woodside using 800?


5 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 9, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Well let's say there are two people in each home. Six to eight homes on one acre would have 12 to 18 people living there using 800 gallons of water...your figure. One house on an Atherton acre would have two people using 800 gallons of water using the two resident number. Yes, it's the same amount of water being used but more people are sharing it. Hello...it's an equity issue. All people have the same basic water needs...the difference is the amount of landscape watering done by folks living on an acre. Lawns and water thirsty plants have to go until something meaningful is done with water used by big agriculture, big oil, and all the other big corporate political donors.


1 person likes this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm

OK...I misspoke...lawns and thirsty plants really need to go forever. Probably cannot be supported no matter what happens with big ag, big oil, and other big corporate political donors.


3 people like this
Posted by Who's off?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

... uh -- maybe the difference is it's supporting about eight times as many people?


6 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm

About the country club's plan to pump water from the underground aquifer: That is not necessary. The last time I looked, golf courses and country clubs were not necessary for human survival. Ever. And what I read about aquifers is that they take decades to recharge. It is very selfish for that country club to plan to pump water just for the benefit of a few very rich people so they can have fun, at the expense of the rest of us. We will doubtless need that water in the future for drinking and bathing and cooking, etc. Leave it i the ground, for heaven's sake!


6 people like this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

All these comments are thoughtful and well-intentioned. HOWEVER. . . . you know how the magician distracts you from what he's doing with one hand, by doing something visual and attractive with his other? Well, Gov. Brown and his Administration -- and so on down to all the local water utilities -- are doing the same thing. They have succeeded in getting us to focus on the urban/residential water use, and demanding further reductions from us. This ALMANAC article and most of the comments here are doing the same thing. Please pay attention to the comments that talk about fracking and almond growing. Please focus on agricultural water use in California.

Why? Because residential use -- that's us -- represents only 10% of all water consumption in California. Even if we all stopped using water entirely, water consumption would go down only 10%. In other words, WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. Is that clear? WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM! Agriculture is the problem. Fracking is the problem. Other industrial uses are the problem. These are all wasteful beyond imagining. 80% to 90% percent of all state water consumption is NOT residential/urban. And much of that is wasted because it is so cheap for its customers. Much, much cheaper than what we individuals in our homes are being asked to pay right now.

Please, please, google this subject and get and education. We must learn how the magicians in Sacramento are doing their trickery on us and come to understand this drought, its consequences and where the solutions really are.


1 person likes this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Martin - the agricultural areas generally pull water from different sources than residential areas do. I don't think Hetch-Hetchy water is generally used for agriculture; we do not get our water from Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta, etc. To protect the particular source that local people use from being overdrawn, I believe residential conservation does have a big impact. It would be interesting if someone knew - for the local area - exactly what flexibility exists.

The actual problem is overdrawing one's particular sources of water; I don't believe the state can readily shuffle water around between all of them. On the one hand, you have locations last year - like Willits and Ukiah - that found themselves perilously close to having to turn off the tap to residences (I believe they're better off now.) On the other hand, I read that Eureka has plenty of supply - in spite of being a little short on rainfall - because they shut down a couple paper mills a few years ago that use to consume huge amounts of water, so their reservoirs have plenty of excess capacity right now. It may be better to target policy to very specific local conditions.

A lot of residential use is particularly superfluous. Food, in general terms, is not superfluous; it's appropriate that the majority of our water use goes to growing things. Still, there's waste in agriculture, but that does not address the problem of our local water supply.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Alan is a registered user.

This is interesting: Web Link

I believe, for Woodside/Portola Valley/Atherton, the water sources are:

1% Local Groundwater
2% Local Watershed
97% Hetch Hetchy Water System

Know your sources ....


6 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Aaron is a registered user.

@Long time resident -- If the Sharon Heights Country Club wants to become a public club that gives all residents of Menlo Park automatic membership and open tee times , then maybe we could consider letting them put a well in a higher density residential downtown area, and drain the city's water table (risking salt water incursion to the aquifer) to feed their greens and lawns. Even then, it's still a bad bad deal for the city. Exploitation of public resources for exclusive private use. No thanks.


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Posted by William
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

20-25% reduction is not bad. In Clovis, CA they are requiring a 36% reduction. What i am mad about is this does not consider increase of family size. In 2013 if you were a 2 person family but now you are a 3, 4, or 5 person they do not care. Sounds like some greedy people trying to make money off the fines.


2 people like this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

I've recently started a new company - RainDance - to help residents and businesses meet or exceed the 24-36% state-mandated reductions in potable H20 use by trucking recycled H20 from Palo Alto's H20 treatment plant to irrigate landscapes.

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RainDanceLawnwatering
Phone: 650-935-LAWN
Email: RainDanceLawnWatering@Gmail.com


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Posted by Dustin
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:22 am

Clovis resident here, work closely with Fresno Irrigation District and Clovis H2O.
Just wanted to quickly point out based on user: Williams comment- Clovis is not making any money from this 36% reduction, we are losing 36% of our annual revenue. This is the type of thinking I deal with on a daily basis from people who don't understand the entire scope of the issue. To think local governments are reaping the benefit of these restrictions is simply not true, and to think they are doing it out of greed is asinine. I can assure you, at least here, we are not. If we fail to meet the state restriction standards, water utility agencies can be fined upwards of $10,000 per day.

*Clovis water is 85-90% accounted for by residential use, and although we have already reduced that by a significant percentage over the last year, we still have one of the highest resident- gallons per capita per day, at nearly double the statewide average. This is why we are imposed with greater restrictions than other municipalities

Here are some ways you can save water

-Learn how to read your own water meter, and check it weekly as you find ways to improve household water systems and appliances.
-Have your home inspected for leaks (Running toilets are major violator in many homes)
-Most cities actively engaging in conservation will offer free shower heads, bathroom and kitchen sink aerated heads, or no drip nozzles for outdoor watering to residents.
-Call your local water utilities department, most will also perform free water audits of your home to detect leaks, help set irrigation timers and help identify other ways to conserve.
-Install sprinkler timers, and/or drip irrigation instead of traditional sprinkler heads.
-There are time-limited rebates offered by the state of CA for residents who install certain energy efficient appliances (Dishwashers, toilets, etc...)

Finding ways to conserve in your own home is obviously key, but it's just as important to research where exactly the water in your district is coming from, and where its going. Unfortunately, yes, people in some places who have already been conserving for years may be penalized for not being able to reduce further. I don't have the answer, but obviously the goal here- as user: acomfort mentioned, is to develop a system where people WILL benefit from conserving water.

Understanding the amount of water it takes to raise and process certain animals and crops, and basing our consumer decisions on this information is probably the greatest way we can conserve. There are more than enough food products to choose from, and considering that the majority of CA water is used for agriculture and farming, we should do our homework and buy the products that take less water to produce. Also, don't forget about non-food products.
Although some may see these two utilities as unrelated- saving power will also help conserve water. Hydroelectric energy generation is very efficient, but nonetheless, turning off unused appliances in your home will not only reduce your power bill, but also help the statewide effort to conserve.


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Posted by sm selfish lawns
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 23, 2015 at 8:50 am

tear out the lawns, unless they are used by the general public (parks)


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 28, 2015 at 5:34 pm

I just finished 18 holes at the club, Getting ready to take a swim, but I reduced watering my acre of grass to 4 times a week.

Trying to help where I can,


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Mar 16, 2017 at 11:33 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Apr 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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