Menlo Park district surpasses state water-reduction goal


While much of the state faces severe water use reductions, customers of the Menlo Park Municipal Water District may be largely off the hook.

The State Water Resources Control Board is proposing that the district reduce water use by 16 percent from 2013 levels. But the district has already achieved a 27 percent reduction, according to state data.

While the number is accurate, the 27 percent reduction is based on the amount the district purchased from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, said Public Works Director Jesse Quirion. The district's actual sales numbers show a 12 percent reduction from 2013 levels, he said.

The city plans to implement further water-use restrictions and the staff will recommend to the council that the city seek to exceed the mandated reduction, Mr. Quirion said.

The municipal water district serves only part of Menlo Park, but a large part: Sharon Heights, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Horse Park in Woodside, the Willow Road corridor, and homes and businesses in Belle Haven and the M2 industrial zone.

Much of the rest of Menlo Park receives water from the private California Water Service Company and is in the Bear Gulch District. That district is facing mandatory cuts of 36 percent from 2013 levels. It has already reduced use by 11 percent, according to state data.

Click here for a map showing the territories of the city's water suppliers.

The reason for the steeper mandatory cuts is that the Bear Gulch District contains many heavy water users, including residents of large lots in Portola Valley, Woodside and Atherton. The district covers those three towns plus parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City.

The size of the proposed mandatory cuts are based on how much water was used by residential customers in a district during July, August and September of 2014. In the Menlo Park Municipal Water District, the rate was 88.6 gallons per person per day. That put it in the group of water suppliers that must cut use by 16 percent, if current proposals are adopted.

In the Bear Gulch District, the rate was much higher: 252.5 gallons per person per day, putting it in the highest tier of water users in the state, and requiring a 36 percent reduction.

How the percentage reductions will be achieved and whether Menlo Park residents in the Bear Gulch District will face tougher standards than their neighbors have yet to be determined.

Water data

Cal Water will disclose data for a town or city, but only when requested by an official from the local government.

Some local officials in the Bear Gulch District communities asked for 2013 data and got it: In Portola Valley, the average was 305 gallons per person per day; in Woodside, 421 gallons; and in Atherton, 480 gallons, according to Cal Water.

During that same year, according to data from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, the Bay Area average was 79 gallons per person per day. The agency's records show an average of 99 gallons per person per day for residents of the Menlo Park municipal district.

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Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Difficult to believe that Menlo Park has surpassed the water reduction goal when you see water running down the street from private homes and businesses every day in addition to areas that the city of Menlo Park is responsible for watering.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Isn't there a large part of the district that doesn't have water meters?

2 people like this
Posted by Waterwise
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Some of this article is incorrect. The Santa Cruz Area, Allied Arts and Flood Triangle are all served by Cal Water, not the City. Also, the only properties that don't have meters are in the O'Connor Water Tract in the Willows. This is a small area of roughly 100-150 properties that are on wells.

Editor's note: You are correct. We had meant to say Bear Gulch District. Check the map for areas served by the two water districts: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I live in the Flood Triangle and am a Menlo Park Municipal Water customer. I believe Suburban Park is serviced by Cal Water.

Like this comment
Posted by Old guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Waterwise - I'm in flood Park Triangle and our water is MP municipal. All mailings so indicate as do our payments.

5 people like this
Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Edward Syrett is a registered user.

I've been feeling guilty about not (yet) having converted our monoculture fake farms (i.e. grass lawns) to more climate-appropriate ground cover the way so many of my neighbors have. But my latest water bill shows my household to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Point is, last summer we did what we could afford to do, namely have a landscaper review our ancient sprinkler system, which was old when we bought the place ten years ago, and make indicated repairs. He found and fixed various leaks. So when I look at the handy bar chart comparing my water usage for March 2014 with that for March 2015, there's a dramatic reduction.

In a way, this story points out that Gov. Brown's "water austerity" program isn't really all that austere, unless you're one of the Orange County types we read about who go right on using as much as ever, or even more. I'll know Sacramento is serious when they ban fracking, stop corporations from bottling our water and shipping it out-of-state, and make it illegal to plant any more nut trees (not just almonds, but walnuts too) in the Central Valley. Up to this point, the water restrictions are mostly show, like strip-searching granny at the airport in the name of "transportation security".

Like this comment
Posted by Et Alia
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Here is a link to a state water board fact sheet with information on how to submit comments on the proposals: Web Link

The deadline to submit comments on the current proposals is April 22.

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

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