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Pleasanton buckling down to achieve 25% cut in water consumption

Original post made on Jun 23, 2014

Facing its most severe drought ever and a water shortage that could see taps turned off without cutbacks by residents and businesses, Pleasanton will start the summer months of July and August with dwindling water supplies.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 23, 2014, 9:39 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by Doesn't Make Sence, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:03 am

So how are we expected to build all this high density housing when we don't even have enough water for all the existing residents?????

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

Asking residents to conserve water is not a tall order.

If you can't conserve water, have you considered leaving town?

Nobody appreciates a whiner...go away...far far far away as Nigeria.

Posted by Thirsty, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:35 am

Other than Nelson Fiala's comment about the lack of leverage zone 7 has politically (hey voters!). No one is discussing additional water supplies and or alliances with ebmud or sf water. What is being done to get our fair share? Im told there are No restrictions in Sacto and LA.

What gives water administrators?

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

$200000 would make for a small down payment on a new reservoir. Better that, than wasting the money on PR that the water district should take out of its budget...but, even that would be a wasted effort.
Stop issuing new hookups and building permits if you are serious about cutting back on demand. Otherwise, you're just spewing in the wind, like cholo.

Posted by PW Reader, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Thirsty--I'm not sure where you got your information about Sacramento and LA not having water restrictions, but Sacramento is under Stage 2 (20 to 30% conservation) water restrictions: Web Link
and Los Angeles County has had mandatory water conservation since 2009. The various water districts and cities also have their own restrictions: Web Link.

I agree that an emergency moratorium on building should be taken until the water shortage abates. Pray for rain because if we don't get more, the drought goes into a fourth year, in which case we will be in bad straits (no pun intended).

Posted by I have always conserved, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm

This is just BS to pay for someone to BEG these abusers to stop wasting water. Fine the idiots! The City claims that they will fine people who waste water yet they see it happening and do NOTHING about it.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I believe that the city's public information officer is more then adequate, if not more so then Carol H. Wright advertising.

I have had several matters of business over the last three years working with the city's public information officer. What I learned is, she is hard working, thorough, communicates easily and effectively with multiple parties involved with an issue. She produces results in a timely manner, when she finishes a project, she is ready immediately to take on another one.

Another point I wish to make is, the most effective manner in which to get the word out is to send out the water and sewer statements as usual, attach the penalty $4.00 to $16.00 per unit over allowed consumption and attach the fine of $50.00 to $500.00 per billing period.

Everyone that uses water is getting the word. What better way and much less expensive way to get the word out. The folks not paying attention will start, and the folks toeing the straight and narrow will continue to smile.

I would much rather see that $200,000.00 go toward paying down the Pleasanton's pension debt. If it is to be spent, spend it where it is needed.

Last week, I sent an email over to Nelson Fialho, Pleasanton city manager. In the email I said, spending $200K to get the word out, is plain stupid.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Correction: "...if not more so than Carol..."

i rest my case...tee hee

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm


My draft copy was -THAN- when I post to the site, I got the red line, so I changed to -THEN-. I agree, correct grammar is your correction.

When I type your name above, I get the red line also. I will not attempt to correct it.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.'s the money quote:

"Truthfully, only 2.8% of the customers we've monitored since the start of this program would have faced a penalty, a very small margin," Smith said. "Even in one neighborhood of very large homes and yards, there would have been only 7.4% penalized. We'll see in the next billing if that percentage holds."

Well, well, well.

Spending "up to $200k" to communicate to between 2.8%-7.4% of households? So how many customers have they monitored to get those %'s, huh?

Complete and utter NONSENSE!

And twice now I've questioned why that particular PR agency? Crickets!

Hey PW, why not investigate this the same way you went into what happened at Walnut Grove with the fired principal?

Goodness...if all you want to do is take dictation then what's the point?

Posted by john, a resident of Castlewood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Get rid of half the parks and half the landscape.Pleasanton is a huge water waster. I saw a truck behind Safway watering dirt today.

Posted by Gram-ME, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

What a waste of $200,000 by our city officials. You mean to tell me that nobody employed by City of Pleasanton is creative enough, can come up with ad campaign so as to use that amount of $$$$$$ on something better?! I have relatives, friends in EBMUD district and their water is so much better than ours. I think that's when I more or less stopped drinking tap water......upon moving to P-town almost 60 years ago. Perhaps other water resources could serve Pleasanton population better. And, yes, while housing is needed, why allow building when water is so limited to those of us already here?!!

Posted by Sunshine, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:24 am

Not sure I understand how only 2.8% could be fined. I'm seeing everyone all around me watering their lawns just the same as they did before the drought with water running off into the gutters. I seem to have the only brown lawn around, but since I only watered twice a week before the drought, now I am probably one of the 2.8% that will be fined! The way the whole thing is structured is completely wrong. You need to set a limit on usage period or a maybe add an allowance per each additional person in the household.

Posted by MOB, a resident of Valley Trails
on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:41 am

Something seems very fishy with Mr. Smith's statements. We all got the "nasty" memo regarding cutting back 25% on water use. We get it! But to spend $200K on advertising is a waste of city funds. Why do I get the feeling there is something going on with the PR agency who has been hired to work on the advertising and Mr. Smith? Also I would like to know how much Mr. Smith has cut back on his own personal use as well?

Reduction of 25% seems steep and unreasonable for many families here in Pleasanton. I don't mind cutting back and doing my part but the city needs to be smarter in the way it communicates to residents. Imposing steep fines is not going to accomplish anything. What is Mr. Smith going to do with the extra money from those fines? Hire more outside agencies?

Not sure if everyone is aware but there is a survey posted on the Pleasanton Conservation site. If you get a chance fill it out, there you will see the 5 posters which the city is reviewing for it's advertising campaign. You get to submit your opinion if you like it and if it makes an impact.

I think some of this is really exaggerated to prove a point and it's giving Mr. Smith his 15 minutes of fame as I have seen him on several TV stations. He needs to go!

Posted by Deport Cholo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:44 am


Interesting that you are advocating shipping people out of the country, when you are candidate #1 to be deported.

Posted by Deport Cholo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:53 am

The obvious question that keeps getting raised, and the City Council keeps ignoring, is "Why is the City Council not putting an immediate freeze on building permits in Pleasanton?" A case in point, the low-cost housing near the new Safeway on I-680 should be stopped dead in its tracks. If Moonbeam Brown doesn't like it, let him turn the water spigot back on.

Posted by Don, a resident of Ironwood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:26 am

I am astonished at some of these comments that are cruel and not thought out. I have a friend who worked for the water district for years and her comment to me was, whatever limits are put on water use, for the wealthy, it means nothing. People with money to burn, will pay the fine, they do not care. It has happened before here in Pleasanton. I think for the most part just by driving around various neighborhoods, that most people of modest income are trying to cut back. Take a good look and see the brown dying lawns. At the same time there may be certain houses on the same block with green lawns. Why not concentrate on watching their habits. Everyone needs to conserve and the old saying "if, it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down" will save some. I also agree that perhaps we stop building for awhile until we are in better shape. Another thing we can do is tell your food server to not bring you a glass of water unless you ask for one. So far I am not seeing the eating establishments cutting back as much as they could.

Posted by Long time resident , a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:35 am

In addition to above suggestions (stop additional building, negotiate an alliance with EBMUD or SF) how about looking at using treated waste water, at least for irregation purposes. I seem to remember that our treated waste water meets all requirements for use as potable water but the citizenery elected not use it a few years ago. Maybe it is time to look at that alternative again. It's probably better quality than what we get from Zone 7.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:39 am


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:40 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

This comment --->: "...whatever limits are put on water use, for the wealthy, it means nothing."

Sure Don, the wealthy don't care, eh? And of course you attribute that remark to someone else.
I guess you didn't read or comprehend this part: "Even in one neighborhood of very large homes and yards, there would have been only 7.4% penalized."

Sounds like someone was surprised that even "wealthy" homeowners have a high compliance rate.

Come around Bridlecreek some time and look at the lawns pal...

Your preachiness is noted.

This whole business of getting out the word and hiring a PR company is nonsense given the cities own metrics of compliance.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

System test

Posted by Hotslide, a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:43 am

Hotslide is a registered user.

I recall years ago when we had drought conditions, people in Marin were restricted to using 50 gallons per day! You could hear the howls all the way to the Sierras. The following Spring, 800 new mini-mansions were built and since that time the area has been bricked-in with homes. Don't look for the building to stop here either, most area councils are stiff with realtors and developers. Remember when Pleasanton had a 1% growth moratorium ~ 1980? Residents did not want the small town character to change like the south bay was experiencing and thru-traffic was the number 1 complaint. BOOOOOOM. Don't shoot, my hands are up!

Posted by Long time resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

In addition to the excellent suggestions above ( curtail building permits until water shortage solved and/or negotiate an alliance with EBMUD or SF) how about looking again at using Pleasanton's treated waste water.

Minimally it could be made available for irrigation but as I remember it tests as fully in compliance for use as potable water. I know the populace voted down using it in years past for non-rational reasons but perhaps it should be looked at again. It is probably better quality than the water Zone 7 provides.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:24 am

It makes me sick to see my trees wither and the ground separate into wide cracks in the hard dry soil. My shoulders ache when I take out 5 gallon buckets of water from my kitchen sink and bathroom shower to sparingly water my few potted plants. Pleasanton should be negotiating with other agencies to find better water resources. I'm appalled by the lack of leadership here. It would be absurd to spend $200K on advertising without going after water wasters. I don't see many brown lawns driving along Foothill. I came to Pleasanton 27 years ago and am ashamed of the way our town looks now. It was always one of the prettiest towns in the Bay Area. We look blighted now.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:37 am

His numbers don't add up. We are using 20% less overall, not the 25% required. However, they said we'll be fined unless we cut 25%. So how can it be that only 2.8% would have been fined?

Is the benchmark for a fine to simply use less than last year, or is the benchmark to use 25% less?

It doesn't take $200,000 to communicate this. Only the school district has done a worse job of communicating than the water department. I'm happy to restrict use, but for Pete's sake, can you simply deliver a consistent communication?

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

Almost everyone is trying to do their part to conserve. Clearly, the most use of water is for landscaping. And . . . it costs more to replace a lawn than it does to pay the fine!!

Posted by Deport Cholo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 11:12 am

There should be tougher sanctions on those that refuse to comply with the cuts, such as if you go over the 25%-reduced amount for 3 billing periods, your water will be turned off. I thought this was done in the Council's action, but I don't see anything about that in the communications that were sent out.

Posted by Build Reservoirs, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Use the $200k to build micro-reservoirs. Start my digging a big hole near the output of storm drains. Capture the water before it gets into the arroyos. Pleasanton has authority over the rainfall until it enters the arroyos.

Halt all building that does not obtain its own water. They can set up some kind of development assessment district to pay for delivering water via tanker railcars and trucks--Not as crazy as it sounds.

Mandate that new development come with artificial landscape or extremely drought tolerant plantings that can survive on winter rain alone.

We got into this predicament because of bad planning. Building permits should never have been issued without realistic, long term plans for water. As Smith has stated before, Zone 7 will never have the political clout to guarantee water supplies. This is not new information, only a realization of a decades-old fact.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I can tell in real time every watt that I am using in electricity. How about using that 200K to buy some flowmeters that would help homeowners figure out how many gallons of water they are using real time. The meters we have now are only accurate to one unit (748 gallons). How do we even know if the flowmeters are accurate or not? Flushing 748 gallons down the drain and see if the meter increases one unit? Trying to figure out how many gallons you are using with the flowmeters installed in our homes is like trying to determine the speed of a small plane using a mach meter. The time to tell people to go into conservation mode was the winter of 2013, not a year later. The water, city, and state officals really blew it on this one.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

The issue is US. The idea of telling "people to go into conservation mode was the winter of 2013, not a year later" -really? Look at the tone of this board (and any other discussion on this site). It's everyone else's problem, finger-pointing, and denial. The same people who want to build mini-reservoirs and debate what % of the population of this, that, and the other are the same people who consistently vote down any infrastructure spending-roads, water, clean air. More of the usual sound bites -"big government intrusion and inefficient use of our tax dollars." Unless we reach the point where we can't flush the toilet and then it's the governments fault for not planning effectively. The $11bn bond issue from 4 years ago to expand water storage capacity (that had not been expanded since the 70's) and allow the state to better cope with the doubling of the population was a non-starter. Now basic supply and demand has kicked in. So folks, stop complaining, take shorter showers and mow a dead lawn.

Posted by More Info, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I agree with Bill - we don't find out if we're making the 25% until the billing period - each 2 months! By that time it's too late. We should be able to look up our usage on a daily or weekly timeframe in order to see if our use of the suggested cutbacks is achieving the 25% or nore goal. I also agree that the 200,000 marketing expense is wasteful - and if Zone 7 can't do as good a job as EBMUD, why do we have them?

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Joe - last time we had a drought, citizens were warned to conserve when the major reservoirs got below 70%. This time around the officals waited until the resevoirs were below 30%. So yes the officals need to take some of the blame for not sending out red flags earlier. Those of us who pay attention to the state water shed readings did start cutting back as early as a year ago because we knew what was coming. Also look at how many state propositions have been of the ballot for the last thirty years that deal with water. Without exception all of these were apporoved by the voters. So what did we get for our money?

Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Using Pleasanton's treated waste water would require pipes transporting it throughout the town, so it wouldn't be ready for a year or two. In the short term, it might even require watering down dirt when digging the trenches to prevent excessive dust polluting the air. So it certainly wouldn't help right now.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

So WE are the problem??

I don't know about you, but I haven't been using a drop more then I did last year, or the year before, and so on....

This is ABSOLUTELY the problem of the water commission and the local politicians for not properly planning usage and the population is having to pay for it.

Tell me why San Francisco, San Jose and - darn it! - even San Ramon don't have water restrictions?

Sure, its OUR fault! <--- sarcasm

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Penalizing a customer for overuse of water seems like an empty threat. Especially if legal action is taken by the customers who are penalized. There is no way for a customer to tell how much water they are using other then to "cut back" on usage, whatever "cut back" means. How is a custmer to know when they have reached 25% reduction? There isn't anyway other then when the customer receives a bill that is two months in the rears. I think any normal thinking judge would say to the city that these penalities are unlawful becasue the customer has no immediate feedback on the amount of water they are using and thus no way of taking corrective action within a timely manner. Also when was the last time any water flow meters were calibrated? The city has total control over what it uses as a standard measure which could be an inaccurate guage of water that is actually being delivered. This is a violation of the weights and measures law.

Posted by Lugnut, a resident of Beratlis Place
on Jun 24, 2014 at 5:12 pm

(Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by Lacey, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jun 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Spending 200,000 is ridiculous,,, !!!!! Just put notice in our bill , which was all ready done . it should be enough to wake people up. Is low income housing being built next to Safeway going to be on water restrictions ? I doubt it!

Posted by I have always conserved, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm

"There is no way for a customer to tell how much water they are using other then to "cut back" on usage, whatever "cut back" means."

Simple. If you are watering your yard every day, if your water runs into the gutter, if you have made no effort to cut back -- you are the problem. These people need to be penalized to the point of cutting them off entirely if they continue to waste water.

Stop the empty threats and just do it. I lived in another city in the Bay Area during the drought years of the 80s. We were told how much water we could use per household. Period. Go over it once, pay a fine. Go over it a second month and have restrictors put on. A third time got you shut off entirely. Anyone found to be watering during daytime hours, watering every day, washing cars, etc, was automatically fined and moved to the level of the third strike.

I see many of my neighbors watering every day, during the day. I see many very green lawns. Where is the outrage? Where are the fines? Until the city stands up and actually does something -- not hiring a $200K mouthpiece to beg for compliance -- these people will continue to p*** away our drinking water.

So very typical and expected from the overly entitled Pleasantonians.

Posted by Trekmtb, a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Jun 24, 2014 at 7:11 pm

It's pretty simple to monitor your water use. You can read your meter by lifting the cover to the box, usually located at the curb by the street. You can see what the meter reading was at the end of the last billing period on your water bill and then compare to the current reading. Last billing period I reduced usage by 25% over 2013. We are 27 days into this billing period and I'm on track to reduce usage by 51% over last year.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I disagree with the people linking this to new development in any way. By the time new housing units are ready, this drought will be long past or will not be relevant.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm

We are conserving water. My question is: If we conserve too much this year and next year the city says we need to conserve another 10%, we could be in deep trouble.

Each year, as far as weather, is very different. We could have a very cool summer and then a hot summer - how can you figure the amount you should conserve?

The part that I hate the most is the water going to LA and we have to conserve.

This is not going to be over any time soon. Just drove by Lake Shasta and it is sad - why we let so much water out last fall is beyond my comprehension.

Maybe next year in the schools, we can have some type of competition or education about our water problems. The youth are the ones that are going to inherit what we seem not to be able to do anything about.

Posted by lll, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

John, this is not just a one-time event. Water shortages will become the norm in California. Not just 'climate change' but we keep building and building. Water will become a much more expensive commodity. That will cause the lawmakers to subsidize water for low-income, while continuing to build subsidized housing, making water more and more expensive and spiraling out of control. People learn to live with insufficient traffic infrastructure. Once we have insufficient water infrastructure, wars in the state will break out.

All new development should show how it is going to mitigate water usage so water usage in the state does not go up. New development should pay the way. Existing residents should not be penalized by new development.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm

"John, this is not just a one-time event. Water shortages will become the norm in California."

Why will they become the norm? This shortage was caused by building, it was caused by drought.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 25, 2014 at 8:34 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"Why will they become the norm? This shortage was caused by building, it was caused by drought."

Wrong!...this shortage was caused by local governmental policy. The evidence is that cities that are only 5 miles away from our extreme boarders are under no such rules. And larger cities and suburbs 15 miles aways are also under no such rules.

Lack of rain didn't help, but still...those are facts.

If developers pay enough into city coffers, those same politicians and bureaucrats who set water policy will quickly approve any and all building regardless of the water situation.

And...why did Pleasanton pick Carol H. Williams for PR? No one has been able to answer that question.

Posted by Don't punish the good guys, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2014 at 11:43 am

It's just crazy to punish the people who are already saving water, buy reducing the amount BASED on what you did last year.
The guy who already has done what he can: Low flow toilets, Let it Mellow, low flow faucets, Shower with a Friend, conservative irrigation, or drought tolerant landscaping is expected to cut back more, while he watches his neighbor who did nothing continue to use lots more water than he.
Would make more sense to allocate per person, or per house.

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2014 at 12:32 pm

The water meter dials indicate usage in hundredths. That's 7.48 gallons each click of the dial on the far right. If these mechanical meters are off by as much as 10% (Not, more like +-3%) that's 0.7 gallons. Read the meter once per week, record it and you can calculate how much you're using on a daily basis. You can then check it against your bill so see that you're being billed correctly. Read it before and right after you water the lawn. You'll be surprised how much you use!!

Posted by Rip off hater, a resident of Ironwood
on Jun 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm

i think the city council and all the builders plus the group that fight for a huge percentage to put in this low income housing pay for our lack of water. the people of Pleasanton need to rise up and sue these clowns! They are taking away our comfortable way of living and turning the city of Pleasanton into sage brush!!! we have worked hard to keep our town green , beautiful and crime free! I'm so fed up with these people! Is there a lawyer or lawyers that want to take these organizations on! I think you would have all of the people in pleasanton behind you!

Stop being unfair! How do they have the power to do this? How do we stop them and turn the tables on these clowns!!!! can we veto these freaks out of office?

Why do we always have to pay for everyone else!! This is not our mistake! Hop on board! Let's work together to stop all the new housing and loosing all our beautiful open spaces to low income!!! they don't appreciate it! We worked hard to live here! have you noticed all the graffiti lately? It's only the beginning of what's to come! keep our open spaces for all the wildlife we pushing out ! Our city is going to end up like Dublin!!!! Pay attention people!

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