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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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Pleasanton's water use matches Las Vegas

Uploaded: Jul 31, 2014
Pleasanton water department staffers have received lots of feedback—that's greatly understating it—since the City Council established the policy that every water user had to reduce their consumption by 25 percent year-over-year or face a financial penalty.
The phone rang off the hook—500 calls per day in the first few weeks. Some folks were concerned that if they already were prudent with using water, reducing that by 25 percent could be a real challenge.
For instance, if you are in a home that was built in the last 10 years, you already have low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads to say nothing of likely much more water efficient washing machines. Those are the easy sweet spots for reduction in older homes—but the water demand is hardened in new, more efficient construction.
That said, Pleasanton's per capita use is simply EMBARASSING. The city has taken huge steps to declare that it is "green"— electric vehicle charging stations, AB 32 Greenhouse gases campaign—yet its per capita water use is equal to that of Las Vegas.
That's right—Sin City in the middle of the desert. Pleasanton's per capita use is 219 gallons per day—exactly the same as Vegas where summer temperatures soar above 100 degrees routinely. Consider that per person (capita) use in Dublin is 120 gallons per day and it is 161 per day in Livermore.
Both Dublin and Livermore have embraced recycling for years, but that's a huge difference between Pleasanton and its neighbor to the north.
For a city that likes to consider itself green, it is both a stark embarrassment and a call for using recycled water. There are a stunning amount of public parks carpeted with lawn that is irrigated with potable water. The city says its water use is down about 50 percent and some of those grass areas are showing brown. Now, just as they have done around City Hall, how about ripping out grass that is only there to be pretty and using native plants that will provide their beauty without taking tons of water.
I am experimenting in my yard and I can say that varieties of Rosemary and Oleander are doing very well with little or no irrigation.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tim is Right, a resident of Birdland,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 10:04 am

It's embarrassing.

My park was way over watered to start. Zone 7 said cut back by 50%. My guess is that City cut back maybe 10% - still way soggy

Dig deeper please

Posted by Steve, a resident of Castlewood Heights,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 11:17 am

Want to save lots of water, stop ALL high-density housing construction. Pleasanton has so many new housing projects that will be going up and the water available is just not there. I would suggest that Pleasanton freezes all new housing construction until we are out of the drought.

Posted by Pete, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

This article is comparing Pleasanton with Sin City(Las Vegas) ...regarding per capita water usage. I don't understand your point. Is there a deeper issue not understood? Maybe consider Orange County per capita water usage...trying to lessen their usage to 175 gallons per day, by 2015. You know a lot about Orange County by previous articles. We will get there, Mr. Hunt.

Posted by Brandon, a resident of Castlewood Heights,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Since Las Vegas is in a desert climate, the typical household has less landscaping which needs water, was this considered in the comparison? Without more information about where the water is being used, this comparison could apply between Las Vegas and any other city.
I also support the idea that water consumption must be considered with any new housing approvals, much like is done in the Monterey and Carmel area.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Las Vegas has some of the most thorough and effective water conservation programs in the country. It's good news to be mentioned in the same breath. It would be embarrassing if we used the same amount as Eugene Oregon, or Port Orchard Washington.

Posted by caywen, a resident of Del Prado,
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm

caywen is a registered user.

I was thinking that Pleasanton should perhaps subsidize the cost of collapsing pools. A lot of homeowners might jump at the chance to save on the $10K+ cost of removing their pool, and the city would gain possibly millions of gallons of water. And less fresh water would evaporate, cutting water usage.

Posted by kbenson, a resident of Bordeaux Estates,
on Aug 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I read about the water break @ UCLA over 10 million gal lost. While LA consumes 55 million gallons per day.

People are looking forward to "El-nino" BUT in reality, we have already over consumed. Population growth + waste.

It might come to folks in Cali migrating, in order to get the one precious commodity we cannot live w/o.

Posted by Educated, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Aug 1, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Caywen, don't know for sure if it's true, but I've heard pools typically use less water than lawns over the course of a summer. Pool covers (to limit evaporation) can and should be used to lessen their water usage.

(I don't have and never have had a pool.)

Posted by Hal, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 1, 2014 at 2:45 pm

What amount of cutting back is sufficient? At what number of gal/day/person will the city stop requiring further cuts, if any? Quite a few people are working hard to reduce usage well beyond the 25% called for by the city and state, but there needs to be a floor. It would help to know there is a threshold figure and to know what it is; that we aren't going to be required next year to cut 25% (or more) out of what is already a pretty minimal level of consumption.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

It's wrong to require people who are already be saving water to cut their low use by applying a fixed percent to everyone. Instead the amount of water allowed per person or per household or per water meter should be set for everyone. Then those of us who already conserve would not be penalized more.

So far Zone 7 has put limits on water use, which affects Pleasanton, Dublin, and Dougherty Valley. I get my water from East Bay MUD, which has provided recommendations but not enforced limits.

My house is 40 years old, but I replaced the toilets a few years ago with 1.6 and 1.28 gal. I replaced my front lawn with drought tolerant plants and use my stored rainwater to water it. As I've mentioned before I'm growing dirt in the back yard. So no water is wasted there.

My only big water users are two young trees that I hose down once a week. I'm not sure how much I soak them, but considering my other water reductions, it is probably not much.


Posted by Tom F, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 2, 2014 at 8:31 am

Up here in the Pleasanton hi-so neighborhood, Castlewood, I have HUGE landscaping that needs oodles and oodles of water and I'm not cutting back one drop. I can afford the fines and am happy to pay them. Mice nuts for a hugely successful guy like me. Let the commoners down in the flat lands cut back.

Posted by Tom F, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 2, 2014 at 9:11 am

Besides water use, perhaps some consideration be given to importing some other Nevada industry into Pleasanton that would divert our attention away from how much water we use. wink wink

Posted by PW18Reader, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School,
on Aug 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm

As a long-timer in Pleasanton and the weekly reader, I am embarrassed to read the "sensationalistic headline-driven" reporting by the Pleasanton weekly - later on the draught and water conservation. Water conservation is a worthy and much-needed habit to develop, and there are more than one way to approach it.

First the outrageous article on July 15th, where the Weekly editors and owners stooped low enough to embarrass even a mob activist or politician inciting the masses. When did the weekly become the lynch-mob style judge of what constitutes water conservation and waste? Is the Weekly now bankrupt of intellectual honesty and journalistic due diligence that it so naively wants to lead (or insult) the readers to believe the guy with a brown lawn is using less water than the guy with a green lawn? And the incredible insensitivity of the Weekly's part to actually print house pictures and their addresses?

What if everyone started publishing the pictures of people, houses, addressees and names of those that don't agree with your views?

Now this article about Las Vegas. What's is the point of comparing to Vegas? Another attempt to "shame" with the naive and misguided comparison with a "sin city"? BTW, being a desert city, Vegas has one of the better water conservation than others. Show your journalistic skills by comparing to other bigger and similar sized cities (with similar environments); and dig deeper beyond the headlines to the actual usage of water on indoors, outdoors, recycled water vs potable water, residential vs commercial, city use, etc.

Posted by Paul , a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm


I do not believe anyone is using a pool cover or at least very few. I am a pilot and fly out of Livermore Airport most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays very early. My flight pattern is right over the top of Pleasanton before I can start turning south and I can tell you that unless people are getting up at a very early hour no one is putting on pool covers. It is just blue blue and blue. Not to pick on Pleasanton because I land flying over Livermore and no one is putting on pool covers there either

Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 4, 2014 at 8:14 am

Wow. Is Tom F. as BIG a jerk as he appears to be here regarding water consumption? Wow. What an obnoxious elitist!

Posted by Big Mama, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm

What color do you think pool covers are? Mine is the color you object to : BLUE!!!!!

Posted by Mr. Jerry, a resident of Sycamore Place,
on Aug 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I got fined $950 for not cutting back 25% of last year usage on my house. My house was a foreclosure and It was vacant last year. My request to correct the fines were denied. Can you believe that Daniel Smiths(Director of Operations) decision is final and their is no appeal process!!! Feel like I moved to CHINA.
How can they expect me to reduce my usage when comparing to a vacant house.
The lady on the phone was unable to give me a target unit usage for my house for next billing period.
I am holding on to my ankles for the next bill. Thinking about getting a lawyer as well.

Posted by Paul , a resident of another community,
on Aug 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Comparing Pleasanton to Las Vegas takes the attention away from the fact that only Pleasanton has this huge fines in place. I have surveyed multiple folks at work who live in neighboring cities further south and east- Pleasanton is the only one with these ridiculous fines. Lets work on kicking out the city council members at the next elections.

Posted by Tom F WISHES he was up here in the Wood!, a resident of Alamo Elementary School,
on Dec 12, 2014 at 12:53 am

ha ha Tom F- how does it feel being so Jelly? Maybe you should have got a better job so you could actually reside in Castlewood! By the way, Castlewood is in UNINCORPORATED Alameda Cty!

The city of Pleasanton has ALWAYS wasted water! Since Hopyard was improved many years ago they have over watered the median to the point that they WATER THE STREETS via the runoff!

fyi- Low Flow toilets WASTE WATER because they do not clean the bowl with the trickle of water they dispence, thus one must FLUSH TWICE!!!

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