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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Tough new rules on water are necessary

Uploaded: Jul 17, 2014
Media reports abounded this week after the state water board established firm new regulations to put some teeth to its message that the state is locked in a drought and everyone must conserve water.
Calendar year 2013 was one of the driest on record and with meager rain and snowfall in January and February, 2014 isn't shaping up any better. It is the third worst drought on record.
The board established fines up to $500 for wasting water such as overwatering landscaping—notably lawns—or using potable water to wash down hard surfaces. San Francisco got a special dispensation for its program of power-washing sidewalks to remove human waste left by homeless people. The city also has moved ahead with porta-potty trucks including staff to ensure that they are used only for physical relief and not illicit activities.
The state board took the action after many communities ignored Gov. Brown's call last winter for a 20 percent voluntary reduction. The overall state numbers have not been close and water managers are particularly concerned because there's no guarantee that precipitation will return to normal levels or more next winter.
Of course, water is one of those uniquely local issues. Depending upon the source and the storage capabilities of the wholesale or retail agencies, the situation varies dramatically area-to-area. Citrus growers on the eastside of the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno are struggling to keep their groves alive because there is no groundwater basin in the area and no surface (river) water is available. The state board has formally curtailed water to nearly 8,000 holders of "junior water rights."
By contrast, most of Southern California is fine this year with voluntary reductions because the wholesaler, Metropolitan Water District, has built substantial storage in the region to have a drought reserve.
Statewide, growers and communities alike are relying heavily on groundwater supplies, with over-drafting of some basins likely.
Locally, Zone 7 has seen its Delta water deliveries reduced entirely, but has water that it has banked elsewhere and groundwater available. It was the overdraft of Livermore Valley groundwater in the 1950s that led foresighted leaders to established Zone 7 and tie in with the State Water Project.
Incidentally, here's a perspective on water and costs.
There's lots of debate going on in the Legislature and other circles about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan that is strongly backed by Governor Brown. It calls for two huge 40-foot in diameter tunnels that would carry water from the Sacramento River just south of the capital city to the export pumps near Tracy.
The Livermore Valley has much at stake in this process because Zone 7 water agency, the wholesale supplier to the Livermore Valley and the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon, receives 80 percent of its water in a normal year through the pumps and the South Bay Aqueduct.
The costs of the new Delta facilities is estimated at $16 billion--- a big really number, but consider.
The Hetch Hetchy water system, which supplies the city and county of San Francisco from the dam in a sister valley to Yosemite, is nearing completion on a $4.6 billion project to upgrade and reinforce its system that supplies about 2.4 million people in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
The Delta tunnel project, without the expenses of environmental restoration in the Delta that is considered a statewide benefit, is expected to cost about three times more than the Hetch Hetchy project. It serves 25 million people and thousands of acres of irrigated agriculture.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Just Me, a resident of Lemoine Ranch,
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Does Tim's support of tough rules on water use include letting Castlewood Country Club's golf course go brown? Can't help but think that golf courses are BIG users of water and this is a SEVERE drought.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:46 am

Pleasanton water department does not serve the Castlewood residences and Castlewood golf course, and parts of Sunol area.
Those areas are serviced by the City and County of San Francisco water department.

Posted by already save, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 7:42 am

Castlewood may not be in Pleasanton but Callippe is and it is not turning brown. It is also not being watered with reclaimed water as it was promised. If fact, most parks in Pleasanton are not turning brown because the city has decided to INCREASE their water usage over the last cycle to green things up again.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 4:56 pm

@Already save,

Email inform him of what you see as a waste of water. He will respond back to you and let you know what action he has taken regarding your information.

Posted by Just Me, a resident of Lemoine Ranch,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I know what water district serves Castlewood Country Club and its very green golf course. Tim is advocating tough new water restrictions for everybody, regardless of the water source, was just wondering if that means his lawn and the golf course he uses will be forced to turn brown. Naturally, he doesn't join the comments to answer the question.

There is no drought for golf courses, I guess. Got to have priorities. Golf oourses > food to eat.

Posted by Already Save, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Nice idea MA but I have done that with no positive results. Their answer is that Pleasanton saved more than the required 25% so now they intend to put all of that excess savings back onto the parks and golf courses. No amount of discussion with any of the people I have talked with can convince them that their actions are wrong and sending out the wrong message.

They see this as a one year drought and their only obligation is to save 25%. The fact that they saved more in the first billing cycle just means that they will use more water now to save ONLY the required amount in the future. Stupid beyond belief.

Posted by Tim Hunt, a blogger,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Tim Hunt is a registered user.

What passes for a lawn on my property was allowed to die last year--it is brown and rock-hard. In an email exchange with Castlewood, the general manager said they were targeting the 25 percent reduction as well as planning to plant bermuda grass on the valley course fairways to reduce ongoing water use.

Posted by Tim Hunt, a blogger,
on Jul 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Tim Hunt is a registered user.

PS--Although I have played rounds of golf at Castlewood on several occasions, I am not a member.

Posted by Rosalie, a resident of Dublin,
on Jul 22, 2014 at 8:13 am

Callippe Golf Course IS indeed be watered by recycled water! I haul recycled water from the DSRSD wastewater plant on Johnson Drive to water my plants and yard in Dublin. The commercial water haulers I talked to stated they were taking recycled water to the irrigation lakes for Callippe Golf Course. Recycled water saves drinking water! :)

Posted by Water saver citizen, a resident of Birdland,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 9:12 am

Check out the green grass at The Presbyterian church whereTim Hunt attends. Why aren't the church lawns going brown too? Other churches in Pleaeanton are adhering to the water reductions.

Posted by Just Me, a resident of Lemoine Ranch,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 12:33 am

Tim Hunt: You don't seem to have understood my earlier question about your advocacy of tough new water restrictions to combat this drought--the discussion has been sidetracked into who is/is not a member of this country club or that country club, etc.

That is not the question.

The question: Yes or no, do you support letting golf courses go brown in order to save water during this SEVERE drought?

Or are golf courses sacrosanct for some reason? Exempt from your "tough rules"? If so, why?

You haven't answered this question. Claiming that "buffalo grass" in the rough areas of the golf course will save 25% of a golf course's water use does not pass the "smell test".

Posted by Tim Hunt, a blogger,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

Tim Hunt is a registered user.

Golf courses, like the immense lawn areas in many Pleasanton parks, are a natural target for reduction. Nationally, the United States Golf Association has been embarked for a number of years on a campaign to reduce irrigation. In my role as publisher of ACES Golf, I spoke to a number of golf courses in Northern California about how they planned to cope. Most were letting areas such as the driving range go brown as well as cutting back on irrigating fairways. If the drought persists, we will see increasingly brown golf courses. It's fair to note that just as homeowners have major investments in landscaping, so do golf courses, whether public or private. Long term the best solution is using recycled water to irrigate, which is the practice at Las Positas and Dublin Ranch.

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