Town to slash water usage 30 percent | June 13, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - June 13, 2008

Town to slash water usage 30 percent

EBMUD mandates turning off water features in parks

by Meghan Neal

Private homes aren't the only place Danville residents will feel the effect of water rations this summer. The town itself will be making major cutbacks to get through a statewide drought that comes after the fourth driest spring in the history of California.

Last week the Town Council approved a report compiled by town staff that outlines various ways the town can limit its water use. In order to comply with East Bay Municipal Utility District's requirements, Danville must cut back usage by about 30 percent.

Already the children's water features have been turned off at Sycamore Valley, Oak Hill, Diablo Vista, Osage Station and Hap Magee Ranch parks, said Assistant Town Manager Marcia Somers. EBMUD has mandated this.

Roadside areas and parks will be watered less often - in most cases down to two days per week from three or four, and never on consecutive days. "Color spots," meaning areas with flowers or flowering plants, are considered nonessential and will be cut out entirely, the report says.

"Definitely our parks and roadsides will not be as green or as aesthetically pleasing as people would like them to be," said Somers. "But, you know, we all need to do this."

EBMUD director John Coleman attended the council meeting to answer questions from the council, who pointed out that Danville had already worked hard to conserve water even before the recent crackdown.

The last major drought in the early 1990s resulted in the town spending several thousand dollars to replace dead plant life. Since then various procedures have been adopted to limit water use, such as using a central irrigation system and collecting "evapotraspiration" data to adjust watering based on plant needs.

"We're trying to learn from that experience," Somers said. This time around they aim to meet EBMUD's requirements while minimizing the aesthetic and financial harm to the town, she said.

"Obviously cutting back 30 percent is a significant amount and plant material will be lost, there's no doubt about that," she said. "We're going to be looking to see what's going to work best to keep the landscaping and the grass alive to the extent we can."

The town plans to aerate turf more often and mow less often, since longer grass can better handle low-water, high-heat conditions. It also will stop power-washing sidewalks and tennis courts and will sweep and use blowers instead.

If the drought persists the town may have to limit the use of sports fields.

"Not to any great extent," Somers clarified. "We want to reserve the right to kind of say, OK, for the next few days we need to have people not playing on the sports fields because they're dying."

The town may need to lower the water level at the Oak Hill Park pond, but not past the minimum level needed to support the birds, fish and turtles that depend on it, the report says.

Per Coleman's suggestion the town is exploring purchasing water from agencies outside of EBMUD to protect the wildlife and comply with regulations from the state Department of Fish and Game, said Somers.

It's also considering this option for the Sycamore Valley Park fountain, which without sufficient water could sustain costly mechanical damage. However, county health standards prohibit using recycled water for any features where children play.

Signs informing residents of the water conservation efforts will be placed on water features and other impacted areas, said Somers.

"We're putting our best foot forward," she said. "Of course, we're all hoping it'll start raining."

For more information visit the town Web site at or contact EBMUD at (866) 403-2683.