At the town's parks, the water features were typically used between noon and 4 p.m. and only when the weather is warm. Hap Magee Ranch Park has a button to activate the water feature, and those at Sycamore Valley, Oak Hill and Diablo Vista parks are programmed to turn on and off at intervals to conserve water. The water feature at Osage Park is currently off as the park is being redesigned.
Children's water features cannot use recycled water as fountains do, for obvious reasons; health risks are an important consideration in any public water element. But such features in the parks are a huge draw for families as children find water endlessly fascinating and love to play in it. Nothing says "drought" like a dry children's water feature at a park, which sends the message that we need to conserve water.
If there is no rain in the upcoming winter, EBMUD will have to put into effect even stricter measures. But until then, turning on water features - at least during hot spells - will probably save water usage overall and should be considered. Just as public parks are more environmentally friendly than each family establishing its own "park" in the back yard, so a community water feature is a better use of this limited resource.