Details of Cal Water appeals process now available

Irrigation schedule changed from mailer

Mandatory restrictions on water use went into effect in California on June 1, and, as could be expected with something brand new, some bugs remain to be worked out.

The California Water Service Company (Cal Water) mailed details of the company's drought restrictions to Bear Gulch District customers on May 28, but announced on Monday that the days on which irrigation is allowed have already been changed from the mailer.

A new postcard has been sent out to correct the mailer. The changes affect only those who live outside Menlo Park and have addresses ending in even numbers, who can irrigate only on Tuesdays and Saturdays (not Thursdays and Saturdays as announced in the mailer).

The company has also added features to its website so customers can see their water budget allocations and water use history, as well as appeal for an increased allocation.

The Bear Gulch District covers Atherton, Portola Valley, most of Woodside, and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City.

On Monday, for the first time, details of the appeals process that customers can use to ask for an increased water budget allocation were posted on the company's website. Reasons that can be used to appeal for a higher allocation listed on the website include:

● Change in household size

● Large animal care (e.g., horses)

● Medical need

● Significant water savings achieved since 2011 -- i.e., average monthly consumption has dropped since 2011 by at least 36 percent.

● Low water use in 2014 -- i.e., average monthly consumption in 2014 was less than half the district's average. (Ms. Smithson said Tuesday that the average Bear Gulch use for 2014 was 23 CCF per month per meter.)

Download the form for a single-family residential appeal here.

A two-page mailing with details of the drought restrictions scheduled to go into effect in June was sent out on May 28, according to Bear Gulch District Manager Dawn Smithson. Customers will also receive their water budget for the current and upcoming month with their water bill.

The water use budgets are based on a 36 percent reduction from the amount of water used by the same customer in the same month in 2013, with a minimum of 600 cubic feet (6 CCF or 4,448 gallons) per month. They apply to all customers, residential and nonresidential.

Customers who did not live at their address in 2013 will be given an allocation based on the average water use in the district. Ms. Smithson said the district average water use per month in 2013 was 39 CCF for June, 38 CCF for July, 40 CCF for August, 40 CCF for September, 31 CCF for October, 31 CCF for November and 17 CCC for December.

The website shows the water use history and budget through February in a graph, with use information available as far back as 2011. While the company had promised to have the information available in gallons as well as in hundreds of cubic feet (CCF), for now the company has posted on the budget and history page only the information that 1 CCF equals 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons, of water.

If a customer does not use their water budget allocation one month, it can be "banked" and used in any subsequent month. No surcharge will apply to the use of banked water.

Water use that goes above a customer's allocation will come with a surcharge of $10 per 100 cubic feet.

Cal Water has also announced a toll-free Drought Call Center at 844-726-8579 to answer questions about appeals, to report water waste or for other drought-related issues.

In the mailing Cal Water has announced a change in the days of the week on which it will allow outdoor irrigation, which is limited to two days a week between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. On Monday, June 1, the company sent out a postcard updating that information.

According the postcard sent on Monday:

In Menlo Park residents will be on the schedule that Cal Water announced at a May 19 meeting: Addresses that end in odd numbers, and properties with no address, will be allowed to water only on Mondays and Thursdays; addresses ending in even numbers, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In the rest of the Bear Gulch District, addresses that end in odd numbers may water on Sundays and Wednesdays; addresses ending in even numbers and those with no street address may water on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Those who use only drip irrigation and micro-sprayers or hand water will be able to water at any time on any day of the week, however.

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Like this comment
Posted by John Skadden
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Maybe this will be discussed in the mailer, but we were wondering if the budgeted water amounts will be "month specific". In other words, if you're under budget in a month, can the excess be applied to the following month?

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on May 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Yes, any unused water budget can be banked and it can be applied to any subsequent month. If banked water is used there will not be a surcharge for that amount. I will add thos facts to the story.
I have also just received the averages that will be applied for those who were not at their current address in 2011 and will add that as well.

Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I am wondering if water days in Menlo Park for houses ending in even numbers should be on Tuesdays and Saturdays instead of on Thursadays, with Tuesdays spacing 4and 3 days vs with Thursday And Saturdays spacing is 2 and 5 days which makes no sense.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jun 1, 2015 at 11:43 am

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

We pointed out Rodger's comment to Cal Water and they agreed there was a mistake in the watering day for non-Menlo Park resident who have street addresses ending in even numbers or no street addresses. Cal Water says they sent out a post card to all customers on Monday changing the irrigation days for those addresses to Tuesday and Saturday.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

We have just received from Bear Gulch District Manager Dawn Smithson the average 2014 Bear Gulch water use figure, which Ms. Smithson said was 23 CCF a month per customer. Customers that used less than half that amount of water in 2014 can apply for an increased water budget.

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

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