To meet its targets for water conservation as the drought goes on, Woodside residents will need to focus on reducing outdoor irrigation. Such are the views of the town's Sustainability & Conservation Committee, the Town Council in giving direction to staff, and the manager of the local water district.
The council met April 28 to consider recommendations from the sustainability committee on what the town should do to respond to state water conservation regulations expected to go into effect around June 1.
Woodside will almost certainly be among the communities required to cut water use significantly. Along with Portola Valley, Atherton and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City, much of Woodside is supplied by the Bear Gulch District of the California Water Service Company.
The State Water Resources Control Board is proposing the Bear Gulch District reduce water use by 36 percent from 2013 levels. The district has already cut back by 11 percent.
Committee Chair Jason Mendelson, using census and water district data for 2014, told the council that 10 percent of Woodside residents used 38 percent of the town's water consumption. Those consumers averaged 1,336 gallons per person per day. The other 90 percent of residents averaged 242 gallons per person per day, he said.
Mr. Mendelson called the heavy uses of water "obscene," but said that outreach to residents is preferable to shaming them. The council, in principle, accepted the committee's suggestions, which included setting a target for gallons of water used per-resident-per-day and pushing for higher rebates for residents who replace their lawns with less water-intensive planting.
The town will also adopt water-use regulations that mirror those now in effect throughout the state, including prohibitions on watering that runs into the street, washing hard surfaces such as driveways and patios, washing cars without an automatic shutoff nozzle, and filling or refilling swimming pools.
If Woodside residents supplemented their outdoor irrigation with water from showers, bathtubs and bathroom sinks, that could reduce water use by 15,000 gallons a year per person, the committee said, adding that the town should put together a brochure on how to do that.
Without significant cutbacks by heavy consumers, Bear Gulch won't meet its 36 percent goal, said George Offen of the sustainability committee.
Dawn Smithson, manager of the Bear Gulch District, replied: "Where can we help you cut back? I understand that (going after big consumers) is the biggest bang for the buck. That really, really is."