For the first time in 75 years, the meadow near the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski area had no snow when the Dept. of Water Resources team showed up to take its monthly measurements. The ski area had closed for the season two weeks earlier.
Gov. Brown used the media event to announce mandatory 25 percent rationing for urban users across the state. The criteria was against usage in 2013. Given the Livermore Valley's excellent response to the drought situation in 2014 when most communities exceeded the 25 percent goal, it will be steady as we go for most households.
The governor took one other important step, directing state agencies to cooperate with local agencies to remove 50 million square feet of ornamental landscaping and lawns and replace them with drought-resistant landscaping. He also targeted ornamental plantings in road medians, features that abound in the valley. If you are in some parts of Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon, it is not big deal?recycled water irrigates those areas.
Pleasanton will need to aggressively continue to push ahead with its project to bring recycled water to the 102-acre Ken Mercer Sports Park and median strips in and around Hacienda Business Park and other north Pleasanton projects.
The next objective for most communities should be to examine the large turf areas in neighborhood parks that are mostly ornamental. There are better solutions as the governor and his drought response team identified.
The steps outlined are prudent ones?there's still the larger challenge of developing water infrastructure that can efficiently capture water during major rain storms. If predictions of more rain and less snow are even relatively accurate, the infrastructure needs major updates and expansion.
The city has put the first phase of the recycled water project out to bid with bids to be opened on May 7, according to Adam Nelkie, a sr. civil engineer. If the funding documents are in place?a process city staffers are working on with the state?then the City Council could award the project in June.
After the council awards the contract, then it will be between 30 and 60 days before the project commences. It is expected to take 300 working days so, assuming a July start, then it will be late 2016 before the project is finished.
There is an interim milestone to get water to the sports park with the first 150 working days, which would be February 2016.
Given the governor?s announcement this week, the state should be doing all it can to expedite this long overdue project for Pleasanton.
Incidentally, as one person pointed out, I know quite a bit about water, locally and statewide, through my role as a communications consultant with the Zone 7 water agency.
Tri-Valley Bank, a small community bank with offices in San Ramon and Livermore, swam against the tide recently when it removed ATM machines from both branches.
The San Ramon branch relocated to a new space and rather than move and update the expensive machine, managers had tracked it use and decided to eliminate it. The Livermore branch pulled its old machine at the same time.
When questioned (I am a client and a minor, minor shareholder?it's not been an investment that has paid off), I was informed that the branch usage did not warrant the investment. Tri-Valley pays fees for the first five withdrawals from other institution's ATMs, while many people use their cards for cash back at grocery stores.
The decision contrasted sharply with the number of branches and ATMs the major national banks have located in the Tri-Valley area. Presumably, their decision makers want to do business with the increasingly affluent residents here. For instance, Wells Fargo and Union Bank have branches across from each other in the Pleasanton Gateway Center, while US Bank has a branch inside the Safeway store.
Drop into Hacienda Business Park, and you'll find Wells Fargo, Union Bank and Chase all in the same Hopyard Road Center. The same goes for around Stoneridge Mall.
I have read that some banking firms and retreating from branches?I can't say I have seen that in the