Landscape irrigation focus of water-reduction effort in Woodside


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."

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1 person likes this
Posted by Kaz
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on May 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm

The cynic in me expects these massive, "obscene" water wasters to continue gaming the system....letting all their estate/household employees claim residence, they can quickly diminish their average use per person, for example.

The optimist in me hopes that a few high-profile residents will take big steps and share their methods to drastically cut back, leading the way with honor instead of shame.

Larry E, will you be the first hero?

Like this comment
Posted by Farms?
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

With about 2100 housing units in Woodside, that's about 210 households to convince they need to drop their water usage. I'm fine with allowances for farms and horses, but otherwise I can't even understand how one household could use over 4000 gallons per day, on what??

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Posted by Horses
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Also, how are they calculating gallons per household resident? Do they know how man any people live in each house, or are they just using the avg of 3?

Many properties have 2 houses on large lots.
Many have farms and or horses

Cut water in half for pure landscaping, and most plants will be fine.

2 people like this
Posted by Belle Stafford
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm

It is not often reported, but the fact is that only 4% of our water is for household use,yet 50% or more is given to animals raised as food. Cutting back on household use will produce neglible results in overall water consumption. Shorter showers, not the answer. We need to decide to want to give our food and water to animals or to ourselves. Eating animals is extremely inefficient and wasteful and completely unnecessary.We could be feeding everyone on the planet vs. using 15 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat. For more info, check out or

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Posted by Horses
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 13, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Actually it is reported all the time but unless you can pay for lobbyists to fight that battle in Sacramento, not much can be done about big Ag.

Any suggestions other than going vegan?

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

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