Water use drops in Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley


Editor's note: Cal Water has significantly revised its May numbers reported in this story. Click here to see latest numbers from Cal Water.

By Dave Boyce | Almanac Staff Writer

Early efforts to reduce outdoor water use during the drought are showing signs of success in Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. Consumption dropped by percentages in the double digits in the month of May compared with two years ago, according to reports from the California Water Service Co.

Figures for Menlo Park, which is served by two major water districts and three smaller ones, were not immediately available.

As required by state mandates, during the nine-month period that began June 1, usage figures for 2015 will be compared with the same period in 2013. The State Water Resources Control Board set a water-reduction target of 36 percent for Cal Water's Bear Gulch Water District -- Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley and parts of Menlo Park and Redwood City.

Cal Water's May reports are interesting in that they show what local conservation efforts have accomplished so far, a preview before the official start of the statewide water-use tracking period on June 1.

Compared to two years ago, Woodside customers -- including residential, commercial and government -- led the way with a reduction of 26.9 million gallons, or 39 percent, according to Cal Water. Year-to-date, Woodside customers are using 8 percent less water so far in 2015 than they did in the same period in 2013.

Portola Valley came in second, dropping by 15.8 million gallons, or 36 percent, with a year-to-date drop of 11 percent compared with 2013.

Atherton is down 12.8 million gallons, or 15 percent for May, but up 4 percent for the year.

Cooler this year

Weather may have played a role. Data from San Francisco-based Weather Underground for the Menlo Park ZIP code shows May's mean average temperature this year was 61 this year compared with 64 in May 2013.

More meaningful, perhaps, are May's mean maximum temperatures 68 this year compared with 77 in 2013. Also sharply different was the demand for air conditioning, referred to as cooling-degree days. The data shows two such days in May this year versus 12 in May 2013.

Some other data points:

■ Atherton government's use of water in May 2015 dropped 52 percent from the 2013 numbers, but was up 14 percent for the year.

■ Woodside government's use of water in May 2015 was down 24 percent compared with 2013, and down 19 percent for the year.

■ In all three communities, when compared with May 2013, consumption dropped in March, but rose in January, February and April.

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