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Editorial: Get serious about conserving water

Original post made on Jul 18, 2014

Town council members from both Portola Valley and Woodside at recent meetings expressed concern about the significant increase in water usage in the towns. Portola Valley appears to be more serious than its neighbor about addressing the troubling development.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 18, 2014, 9:08 AM

Comments (6)

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Posted by Realist
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Unfortunately PV and especially Woodside residents don't live in the real world. Increasing water bills probably materially impact less than half the households, and higher cost will not deter the wealthy folks who choose to increase water use 44% year/year! Perhaps the best approach is to only allow a certain amount of water use per month - by limiting watering to one day/week for example, and to publish the list of abusers and their usage for all to see. don't just charge those who go over, fine them as well..

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The most effective way of dealing with this is tiered pricing with a low price for life line/essential levels of use and then greatly increased cost for all increments above that life line level.

This tiered pricing is already used for both gas and electricity - the only difference with water tiered pricing would be to charge a lot more for excessive water use.

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Posted by Woodside other
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

It is hard to understand the water increase. Could the Water board or other agency give more insight as to where/how?

I know many people that have decreased their water usage, so please don't pass blame on entire community. My yard is particularly brown and yellow!!

For that large an increase, it has to include significant industrial increases, or the like. Specifics please!!

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Posted by Disappointed in Woodside
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jul 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Sometimes I'm embarrassed to live here. The lack of support for Ms. Mendelson's report was pitiful.
Woodside council tactic of "study sessions" is where issues go to die.
Deborah Gordon is an embarrassment. She claims to be involved in BASCA and couldn't even define the acronym.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK, people. Be prepared to support your community and committees with support for their efforts.

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Posted by William New
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Agree with tiered pricing strategy that does not increase water costs for minimalist user but escalates rapidly (e.g. exponentially) for larger users. During the last major drought in the 1970's, the Skyline County Water District (then the supplier of water to the Skywood/Skyline area of Woodside) used an exponential rate increase based on water usage measured at the property line meter every week. Small homes and frugal individuals using very little water saw no change in their rate. Large homes with extensive irrigated landscaping, swimming pools, washing of pavements, free-running water for livestock were charged substantially more -- several thousand dollars per month. These high charges motivated high users to reduce their consumption with no effect on the small consumers, many of whom were already below the minimum recommended by the American Water Works Association. The exponential rate structure was adjusted up and down to cover all the penalty charges imposed by our regional supplier, San Francisco Water Department -- again, with the small frugal user bearing no part of this penalty.

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Posted by Matt R
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jul 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I'd like to know the drivers for the per capita increase as well. We don't have irrigated landscape. We don't have a pool. We have a high efficiency washer, we have a high efficiency dishwasher, we have low flow faucets. When we freshened one bathroom, we upgraded the other bathroom toilet to a more efficient one. Personally, there is no way we can hit a 20% decrease because we've learned how to live "water frugal" for years.

Asking for an across the board 20 percent reduction isn't a sound way to implement water conservation or pricing. Some sort of tiered way to charge for water is really the only sound approach. Another approach would be to supply water efficient fixtures or landscaping at a subsidized price, so that people will more quickly adopt efficient tech. We've done this as a state for decades with electricity, to great success on per-capita electricity consumption. Should work with water too.

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