Water rationing goals may drop dramatically

State must approve plan, which would start Aug. 1

While it won't happen immediately, the water conservation goals for local residents in Cal Water's Bear Gulch District may soon decline sharply.

Cal Water has asked to lower the conservation goals for most of its districts, including Bear Gulch, to 10 percent less water use than in 2013. If approved by the state's Water Resources Control Board and Public Utilities Commission, the lower goals would go into effect Aug. 1.

The conservation goal for the Bear Gulch District, which covers Atherton, Portola Valley, most of Woodside, and parts of Redwood City and Menlo Park, has been 36 percent less water use than in 2013.

In May, the latest month with complete figures, the district used 40.3 percent less water than it did in May 2013. The district's cumulative conservation rate since June 1, 2015, is 36.6 percent, just over the goal, according to Cal Water's website.

The company is also suspending surcharges "at least temporarily," the water company's website says. That means that customers who don't cut back by 10 percent won't be penalized.

Most of the conservation rules put into effect last year will still apply, however, including prohibited uses of water, water waste violations, and most irrigation schedules, Cal Water says. Many local communities passed their own water-use regulations.

Prohibited uses of water, under state law, continue to include:

● Applying water to outdoor landscapes that causes runoff onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, driveways or structures.

● Using a hose to wash motor vehicles unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle.

● Using water in a fountain or other decorative water feature unless it's recirculated.

● Watering outdoor landscapes within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.

● Using potable water to irrigate outside of new construction without drip or micro-spray systems.

● Using potable water on street medians.

● Serving water in eating or drinking establishments that is not requested by the customer.

Hotels and motels must continue to inform guests they can save water by not having their towels and linens laundered daily.

"Bear Gulch customers have worked hard to reduce their use during this historic drought, and we appreciate their efforts thus far," Bear Gulch District Manager Dawn Smithson.

"It is critical that our customers continue their excellent conservation efforts to ensure that we have enough water to meet long-term needs."


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4 people like this
Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 1:50 pm

It seems shortsighted for the state and local agencies to reduce water conservation goals when the long range forecast is for renewed snow and rain shortfalls in the coming winter.

3 people like this
Posted by AFM
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm

This shouldn't happen. The multi-year draught is far from over in spite of this year's "normal" precipitation.

4 people like this
Posted by Unexpected Consequences
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Unfortunate that the Bad News Bears are out in force already. Like all mandated restrictions, water rationing should be applied only as needed. Instead of considering only lawns and flowers, think about the surrounding trees. Haven't these rationing zealots read the recent reports of the huge numbers of dying and falling trees not just here in suburbia but also in the forests of California? Tree roots run under lawns. Thirsty trees become stressed and are thus vulnerable to disease and insects. Sick and dying trees topple over onto houses, cars and people. Best to allow watering to the degree necessary for a healthy landscape and reinstate restrictions as needed later if the drought reoccurs.

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