News

Wednesday: Staff recommends Atherton not pass water-restriction laws

 

The California Water Service Company has asked the communities it serves to adopt local laws mirroring the restrictions in its proposed drought plan; but Atherton's city manager has recommended the town adopt only a resolution supporting the restrictions so that Atherton won't have to enforce the rules.

The City Council will meet on Wednesday, May 20, starting at 7 p.m. to consider the resolution, as well as a new special events ordinance, a master plan for Holbrook-Palmer Park and several other items. The meeting will be in the town council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

City Manager George Rodericks has recommended that the council pass a resolution, not a new law, in support of Cal Water's plan. "Adoption of an ordinance would place the Town directly in the enforcement role with respect to water conservation efforts," Mr. Rodericks' report says. "The enforcement obligation rests with Cal Water, not the Town."

In the future, however, the town might want to consider adding additional water conservation incentives to those that Cal Water is already offering, his report says.

Atherton has the highest per capita water use in Cal Water's Bear Gulch District, Mr. Rodericks' report says, with Woodside a close second. The report says that in 2014, Atherton's per capita daily use was 1,334 gallons, with Woodside at 1,249; Portola Valley, 679; and Menlo Park, 424.

Other items on the agenda include:

Special event ordinance

After a 2013 visit by President Obama to Atherton left the town with $8,000 in bills, but without a law on the books to allow a demand for repayment, Atherton decided to rewrite its special events ordinance. The changes would require those putting on special events to pay for any police, public works or other needed services, as well as the costs for issuing the permit.

Relocation of the town's permit center The town's building and planning functions are now in four deteriorating portable buildings that town officials say won't last until the new civic center is built.

Options in the staff report include leasing new portables and moving them to Holbrook-Palmer Park or other town property so they would be out of the way when the civic center construction begins. Temporarily moving the permit center activities into the council chambers or into the park's Main House are also possibilities.

Park Use Master Plan The council will consider final approval of a master plan for Holbrook-Palmer Park that recommends a little more than $558,000 in park improvements over the next five years. They include renovating shrub plantings, rebuilding pathways, improving lighting, studying relocation of the preschool and town corporation yards within the park, and improving the park entrance.

Cafe or teaching kitchen in the new civic center The Civic Center Advisory Group has asked the council to consider whether the new civic center should have a small cafe or a kitchen where cooking classes could be held. A cafe would be unique in Atherton because it does not allow commercial businesses.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by pedant
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Ahem: "over the next five year."


14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

seriously? I know you all want to throw water away on your landscaping, seriously us "poor folks" should take the hit so you all can keep throwing water away? You people suck. Wake up. Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean you get to waste the resources that belong to ALL OF US.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Eventually even Atherton residents will realize that the California Constitution states the water belongs to the State and that the State can control its use:

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 10 WATER


SEC. 2. It is hereby declared that because of the conditions
prevailing in this State the general welfare requires that the water
resources of the State be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent
of which they are capable, and that the waste or unreasonable use or
unreasonable method of use of water be prevented, and that the
conservation of such waters is to be exercised with a view to the
reasonable and beneficial use thereof in the interest of the people
and for the public welfare. The right to water or to the use or flow
of water in or from any natural stream or water course in this State
is and shall be limited to such water as shall be reasonably
required for the beneficial use to be served, and such right does not
and shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or
unreasonable method of use or unreasonable method of diversion of
water. Riparian rights in a stream or water course attach to, but to
no more than so much of the flow thereof as may be required or used
consistently with this section, for the purposes for which such lands
are, or may be made adaptable, in view of such reasonable and
beneficial uses; provided, however, that nothing herein contained
shall be construed as depriving any riparian owner of the reasonable
use of water of the stream to which the owner's land is riparian
under reasonable methods of diversion and use, or as depriving any
appropriator of water to which the appropriator is lawfully entitled.
This section shall be self-executing, and the Legislature may also
enact laws in the furtherance of the policy in this section
contained.


3 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Peter said "Eventually even Atherton residents will realize ..."

Yeah, maybe when hell freezes over and since were running out of water hell doesn't have any to freeze. Thus Atherton residents will never realize...

In any case hope you're right Peter.


8 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on May 19, 2015 at 8:56 pm

> Atherton's per capita daily use was
> 1,334 gallons, with Woodside at 1,249;
> Portola Valley, 679; and Menlo Park, 424.

I agree the per capita number for Atherton is out-of-line with the needs of Californians, and that water wasters should be fined. Math nerds will point out though, that using the average (which is what per capita is) is susceptible to skewing by outliers. Is there any data on median water use for the towns listed?




13 people like this
Posted by Water policy
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on May 20, 2015 at 1:18 am

First and foremost, using per capita number of gallons of water to compare water use of different Towns does not make any sense. Population Density has to be taken into consideration. As an example Woodside's population density is 467 persons per square mile. Menlo Park's population density is 1898 persons per square mile. When density is taken into consideration, MENLO PARK residents use 38% MORE WATER per square mile than WOODSIDE residents. If per capita water use is enforced, towns like Woodside would be forced to let their vegetation go dry and what would be the result? Dead trees, dead brush and a huge fire hazard in the midst of a drought combined with a hot and dry summer.

Even more importantly, residential water use makes up only 3% of California's water use. 55% of State's water is used by meat and dairy industries. We can all stop taking showers and stop watering our yards, but we will not make a dent in the overall picture. Lets consider what dairy and meat industries feed the State's millions of cows? Alfalfa -- the most water inefficient crop. California also exports about 100 billion gallons of water per year in the form of alfalfa to Asia to feed Asian cows, where meat- and dairy-heavy Western diets are taking hold.

When these factors are taken into account, it is totally ridiculous that the State imposed a mandatory water restriction on California residents but left animal agriculture untouched. Animal agriculture is responsible not only for the dangerous depletion of the state's water supply, but also for the drought's greatest underlying cause: climate change. According to the United Nations, the livestock industry contributes more to this global crisis than the entire transportation sector.

We can dramatically reduce our water and carbon footprints by withdrawing our support of the wasteful meat and dairy industries. Vegetarian diets require on average about 60 percent less water than meat-based ones and the most healthful diet -- vegan diet-- that excludes all animal products require over 80 percent less water than meat and dairy based diets.


19 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 7:08 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Yes, we should all become vegans. Next life. Let's propose some realistic alternatives.


Like this comment
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 20, 2015 at 8:11 am

lessons learned is a registered user.

The numbers published in this article are not consistent with numbers published elsewhere, unless they are talking about household vs per capita usage. The average for the Menlo Park residents who live in the MP water district is 68 gallons per capita/day according to other sources, for example: Web Link so it's likely that the water use for the Menlo Park section of Bear Gulch is similar.


15 people like this
Posted by Nonsense
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

Per capita water use numbers do not make any sense. We are a family of 4 living on 11 acres of land. We have 3 horses, 4 goats, two cows and grow vegetables and fruits. We have to give water to our animals. We need water for our vegetables and fruit trees. Woodside's water use should not be compared to Menlo Park where average lot size is less than 12,000 sq.ft. If we use as much water as Menlo Park it would be a death sentence for our animals and vegetables and fruit trees.


6 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 9:35 am

pogo is a registered user.

Nonsense -

I'm as supportive of conservation as anyone and practice what I preach. But you don't understand that many people in California, especially in our area, want you and your family to live in a 1,200 square foot home, use only solar power, be a vegan and take a bus whenever you have to travel. What's wrong with you? Don't you understand this is a superior way of life?

It's clearly not enough for them to live their lives the way they want, they insist that you live your life they way they want.


10 people like this
Posted by Diane
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2015 at 9:45 am

If residential water use is 3% and animal agriculture is 55% of California's water use and farmers are feeding cows water inefficient crops like alfalfa, what California needs is re-evaluation of what the State produces. Animal farming constitutes less than 2% of the State's economy and destroys the environment and wastes our water resources. Picking on Towns like Atherton is ridiculous when farmers are using sprinklers to water alfalfa fields to feed the cows.


2 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm

[Post removed; please keep the discussion constructive.]


9 people like this
Posted by Atherton resident
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Water Policy: Unless we pay for lobbyists to fight the battle in Sacramento, not much can be done about Animal farming. Big Ag has deep pockets and powerful lobbies. Telling people to go Vegan to hurt big Ag is meaningless. People do not see the connection between the steak on their plate and the sentient animal who lived a tormented life and suffered a horrifying death in a slaughterhouse. Unless everyone drives by the 100 mile stretch from Stockton, no one will make the connection between their steak and the air and water pollution caused by animal farming.

It is more enjoyable and politically correct to complain about Atherton's water use over a glass of wine while eating your steak cooked in butter.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Nonsense -
I can see that the per capita rate is not a particularly useful statistic. But what the state water board is calling for is an across-the-board 36% reduction in use, compared to the base year of 2013. Can you see your family achieving that kind of reduction? Using Peninsula Residents's reported per capita rates of usage in Woodside, that works out to 3,200 gallons per day for your family of 4. That seems like a generous amount (over 4 ccf per day) that should easily cover you, your family and a your farm. If so, then there's not a problem.


9 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I think this argument about farmers vs city dwellers is beside the point, at least for those of us who get our water from Cal Water. Our water comes from Hetch Hetchy. None of this water goes to farmers. Farmers could cut their water usage to zero and it wouldn't give us a gallon more water. We need to reduce our water usage to extend the Hetch Hetchy resource for our own use later this summer and the next few years, if the drought continues that long. Saving water for our own use isn't making it available for farmers. The exception being the family farms in Woodside, who are, like the rest of us, going to have to get by with 36% less than usual.
So let's lay off the farmers, at least in this forum. They really aren't the issue here.


5 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

Oh, poor Nonsense, not to worry, the rich will do just fine, and if they have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in penalties, they will barely notice. It's the less affluent, especially those who have already cut their water use, installed lo-flo everything, and observe a vegan/vegetarian diet (not that that counts) who will be slammed the hardest. We know you spent a $half-million on landscaping, so we understand that you don't want it all to die. We're just hoping that we will be allocated enough water so that we can shower more than once a week and keep our dogs' water bowl full. Think you can spare some?


4 people like this
Posted by Hey Brian
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed; please keep the discussion constructive.]


34 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 20, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Sure would be nice is the comment section could be used for suggestions of how to conserve water instead of the usual finger pointing and angry fist shaking.

Here's a couple of suggestions:

Put a bucket in the shower to capture the water as it heats and use it on your plants
Turn the water off while you shampoo or suds up
Water your plants early in the morning (4 or 5) so the water can be absorbed
Install a drip system
Plant native plants that are drought resistant

Anyone else?


6 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm

really? is a registered user.

And take showers together.


7 people like this
Posted by Belle stafford
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Great website for factual information about where our water is really going, www.truthordrought.com. Or watch Cowspiracy. Be well-informed in 90 minutes.

Soon, the ratio of 4% for household vs 50-55% for livestock will be common knowledge. We are giving 70-80% of the grain grown in this country to animals, we could be feeding the world and helping starving people. Four excellent reasons to eat more plants: environmental devastation, our health, feeding the world, and last but not least, the suffering of the animals. If you can't go full bore veg diet, if everyone cut back that would help. Your heart will thank you! Just watch those high blood pressure and cholesterol numbers magically drop.


7 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm

pogo is a registered user.

In addition to your very good suggestions, I have another.

Stop releasing billions of gallons of clean water in a vain attempt to keep the 2 or 3 remaining delta smelts alive. That's not the highest and best use of our resources, much less an efficient way to try to preserve that fish.

Those enormous releases account for a full 50% of our clean water. Yes, 50%. Of the remaining 50%, 80% goes to agriculture, 20% to residential. That data is from the California State Natural Resources Agency - I've provided the link in previous threads.

Go for it, trolls.


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Here's a link to a "mass media" report on the wasted water. There are additional links directly to the Natural Resources Agency report is you are inclined to dig through a very dense PDF.


1 person likes this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm

pogo is a registered user.

The link: Web Link

Sorry!


7 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Ah, everyone likes to point why an across the board cut is unfair, because there's all of these possible special circumstances.

The problem is, there *were* voluntary restrictions, and people failed to cut. While I believe some people may have legitimate reasons why it's hard to cut water usage 25%, I find it impossible to believe it's all that hard for the state to cut its usage 25%.

Here's a fun graphic, comparing domestic water usage by country:

Web Link

I'm tired of hearing excuses.


6 people like this
Posted by Nonsense
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Steve, our animals drink about 200 gallons of water per day. We also need additional water to clean their barns and to bathe them. Their water use increases when temperatures are above 75-80 and when they are exercised. We need to provide them grazing lands. We cannot let our land go dry when there is no rain.

We don't have any lawn. We consider our animals as members of our family. I think we can be ok with 3400 gallons of water per day if human members of our family stop taking showers everyday -- hard to do when you work with animals -- and do not flush toilets . Anyhow, I just wanted to give you an idea how water intensive animals are. Putting us in the same basket with a household living on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot in Menlo Park is nonsense.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When it comes to regulation of anything there is an Iron Rule - Simplicity and Equity are Mortal Enemies.

If you want simple regulations then they will be inequitable.

If you want equitable regulations then they will be complex - and much more expensive to administer than simple regulations.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

It's time to be realistic. National Geographic says: "On average, a vegan, a person who doesn't eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet." (Web Link) 600 gallons per day dwarfs all other water-saving methods. For a multiplicity of reasons (environment, health, compassion for animals), we as individuals need to go vegan or at least reduce the amount of animal products we consume. Leaders at every level need to lead by personal example of being vegan, and touted water-saving tips need to become truthful by making their #1 tip the #1 water-saving method: be vegan.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Going vegan is an unrealistic suggestion. People aren't going to do it. I certainly won't. I like eating animals. Most of the vegan food I've tried tasted like crap.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Nonsense -
I agree that lumping your farm in the same basket as someone living on a 10,000 sq ft lot makes as much sense as lumping them in with someone who lives in an apartment. We've all created our own special situations, all quite legally and in the American tradition of seeking our own definition of happiness. So I'm glad to hear that you and your animals will be able to get by on your 36% reduction, albeit with some effort & inconvenience from all involved.
I've been following Really?'s suggestion of capturing the cold water and spray in the shower and using it to flush the toilet (when necessary) or to water outdoor plants. I save about 4 to 5 gallons with each shower and have practically stopped using the water in the toilet tank to flush. I've only been paying attention to our water use for the past month but was gratified to see in our recent bill that our 9 ccf of water during May was exactly on target - 36% less than we used in May 2013. It does require extra effort but 36% is doable. Of course, the hot weather has yet to arrive so it will be a challenge to meet that target when temps rise to 90+ degrees for days at a time.


1 person likes this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Mike -
I think you're getting your wish. Meat consumption in this country is down significantly - 132 pounds per person in 2012 compared to 146 pounds in 2007. Also, there's a major shift from read meat (1,850 gallons of water/pound of meat) to poultry (520 gallons/pound). Red meat consumption is off by 25% since 1970 while poultry consumption has more than doubled in this time.
Both changes are probably due both to Millennials, who are open to new & healthy ways of eating (and were steered toward the Veggie lifestyle for ethical reasons by movies like "Babe"), and by aging boomers looking forward to a healthier old age than their parents had through exercise & diet. Drought and global warming will only speed this natural progression. Though I'm moving in this direction myself, I'll never be fully vegetarian - I hope I'll always be able to get a good grilled steak when the urge hits. Don't you ever get the urge to order Steak Frites at the Left Bank?


4 people like this
Posted by Vegan Grandma
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on May 20, 2015 at 8:38 pm

'Menlo Voter'. I was one of the meat eaters who would get upset when every water conservation and drought discussion turned into an argument about people's diets until I started to pay attention to what vegans were talking about. Eating animals is not sustainable. Animal farming uses too much water compared to growing vegetables, destroys the environment and destroys the only planet we have to live. I also learned that there is a whole delicious world of plant based eating which is healthier for us and for our planet.

That said, millennials have more propensity to go vegan. Thanks to Facebook and Youtube, they see the videos of slaughterhouses and factory farms and understand that animals are sentient and eating meat is not simply a diet but being a supporter of the bloody massacre of sentient beings -- at least this is what my 12 year old vegan grand daughter expressed. When I became vegan, I gained my health back and started jogging at the age of 72.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Grandma:

I'm happy you're happy being vegan. I'm not going to be a vegan. there are plenty of others that won't go vegan either. There are plenty of others that won't do so either. So, this isn't "fix" for a water shortage.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2015 at 7:15 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Vegan Grandma:

the true fix for our water shortage is population control. As long as we continue to allow more and more people into this country we will continue to deplete our limited supplies of water, land, etc.

Also, as another poster pointed out, our water comes from Hetch Hetchy. No amount of people going vegan is going to solve the water shortage in this area as none of our supplies are used for agriculture, at least not big Ag.


3 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 21, 2015 at 7:48 am

pogo is a registered user.

I cannot disagree with any of the prior suggestions, including the latest about limiting growth and the state's population which perhaps should be at the top of our list.

And while we are trying to increase conservation efforts, we should also be working on infrastructure improvements such as more reservoirs, more collection and processing facilities, desalination, and transport systems (canals, aqueducts, etc.) to move water from places that have too much to places that have too little.

We should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.


2 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 21, 2015 at 11:31 am

Alan is a registered user.

Water saving idea: What about eating hunted food? They don't take supplemental water. Thinning the herd of deer from overpopulated areas would reduce food pressures.

Feral pigs and turkeys should be hunted more aggressively, also. They can be destructive; getting rid of them would be good for the environment. Of course, you'd want the pork inspected, but I've heard it can be quite good.

I don't hunt, I just wanted to point out a non-vegan alternative that's environmental.


8 people like this
Posted by Typical
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on May 21, 2015 at 2:49 pm

That's so Atheron. While the rest of us are struggling to reduce our already minimal water usage, Atherton decides that they, the biggest offenders, need not participate.

Typical of that town, full of self-important, self-righteous people who don't think the rules apply to them.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

See a water waster - here is a way to share that information:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 21, 2015 at 4:24 pm

pogo is a registered user.

No one said Athertonians wouldn't participate and there are many posts on this site from its citizens showing their willingness to conserve.

The article is about Atherton's City Council deciding to pass a resolution, not a law. The explanation was that path was chosen because a law would put their city government in the position of enforcing a Cal Water standard which they did not want to do.

Let's not condemn Athertonians ... at least not just yet.


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

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