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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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Be wary of your redwoods with recycled water

Uploaded: Feb 23, 2016
In his State of the City address earlier this month, San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson observed that the city had been working hard to expand use of recycled water for irrigating landscaping.
The Dublin San Ramon Services District, which serves the Dougherty Valley and the older, southern half of San Ramon, has been aggressively installing additional purple pipes to carry recycled water for landscaping.
The newer Dougherty Valley was dual piped with potable water systems and recycled systems when it was developed. Not so for the southern half of the city where building subdivisions started in the 1960s.
Clarkson observed many successes in his address, but one unexpected downside—the coastal redwood trees, which have been planted widely in valley landscaping since the 1970s and 1980s, do not do well with recycled water. The recycled water is higher in salts than the groundwater or water imported from the Delta.
The redwood trees, which thrive in cool, foggy coastal climates (think of where we find natural forests of them (Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Cruz counties to name a few) and it is clear what environments benefit coastal redwoods. If it grows banana slugs, it likely is ideal for coastal redwoods.
The trees have grown well in the valley with plenty of irrigation—developers and homeowners have favored them because they grow rapidly. The catch now is they are not suited to the higher salts in recycled water.
For areas with lots of redwood in the landscape and plans for recycled water, owners should plan to replace the trees over time. Currently, the situation is quite stressful for the trees receiving recycled water in addition to the effects of the four-year drought. Stress also is common for redwoods irrigated with potable water because they have been receiving significantly less water than they are used to because of the drought restrictions.
Recycled water works well for most plants, although water regulators were concerned enough about the salts that they required the Zone 7 water agency to build a reverse osmosis treatment plant for its groundwater to limit the buildup of salts percolating from recycled water.
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Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Feb 23, 2016 at 12:29 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Believe the Demineralization Plant hasn't been operation due to the drought.

Posted by Tim Hunt, a blogger,
on Feb 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Tim Hunt is a registered user.

Renee Olsen from DSRSD wrote to point out that the East Bay Municipal Utility District provides water service to south San Ramon and is serving recycled water to Bishop Ranch through a partnership with DSRSD.

Posted by no user name, a resident of Downtown,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 5:55 am

no user name is a registered user.

"owners should plan to replace the trees over time" WRONG!

In Pleasanton you cannot cut down a "heritage" tree unless you like the idea of a fine totaling into the thousands of dollars. I had a redwood that had been stupidly planted very close to my house and was undermining the foundation and had broken up the concrete walk. It filled my gutter with needles and was pushing up the property line fence. Would the City allow me to cut it down. Absolutely not! I finally called the fire inspector who came out and cited the dead needles on the roof, immediately next to and covering the heater vent, as a fire hazard. My attorney wrote the City attorney telling him the city would be held accountable for my roof fire. Only then did they agree to let me take out that tree.

As much as removing redwoods might be smart, DO NOT DO IT without a written letter from the City stating that they approve it. A friend in town has a $50,000 lien attached to his property from the city for fines assessed for cutting down trees that were leaning on his house.

Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm

rosalindr is a registered user.

My tree man, Darrell Wise of Tree Wise, told me it isn't the recycled water. It's a Redwood tree disease and the sick trees needed to be removed to keep from infecting the healthy ones.

This has been going on for a long time. As the article says the trees were planted in the wrong place and the inland environment is killing them. All of the redwoods should be taken out and replace with more locally appropriate trees.


Posted by mooseturd, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

Don't be fooled. It is the salt. Two decades ago we lost a 60 foot redwood tree because a stupid neighbor emptied her swimming pool against the fence where it killed half the tree.

Toilet water is killing birch trees all over town now too.

Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Feb 29, 2016 at 6:02 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

in any case, whoever decides to plant trees close to houses are just not very informed. I see some gigantic evergreens planted within 10 feet of house walls on my frequent walks and always marvel at how people can allow that to continue.

It would be common sense for the city to allow people to remove trees planted too close to dwellings, there is no reason why if another tree is planted further away it cannot substitute the one being removed.

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