DSRSD responds to Governor's mandatory water cutback

Our community is already there, says DSRSD general manager

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a statewide mandatory water use reduction of 25% on Wednesday.

"Our community is already there," said Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) general manager Bert Michalczyk. "Under our current drought management plan, our customers cut water use by 30% during the summer and 25% for the whole year. We can do it again. We will need to make a few minor changes in our drought response efforts to match what the Governor has ordered, but for the most part we simply need to stay the course."

DSRSD, which provides wastewater treatment to Pleasanton, has started to work with the other Tri-Valley retailers -- California Water Service Company, City of Livermore, and City of Pleasanton -- and wholesaler Zone 7 Water Agency to coordinate this year's drought responses throughout the valley.

"We realize that folks may tire of complying with the drought restrictions, but when the water supply is so limited, it's what we have to do," Michalczyk said. "It's not a pleasant message for us to convey. It's like being told by your doctor that your blood pressure is too high. You may not like it, but you have to cut back on your use of salt."

The water district is also working with other agencies to diversify the valley's water supply portfolio through the Tri-Valley Water Police Roundtable, a series of discussions among elected officials that are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for April 22 at 5 p.m. in the DSRSD boardroom, 7051 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin.

How to stay course

Currently, DSRSD customers can use automatic sprinklers for outdoor irrigation once a week, but households still must use no more that 4,480 gallons of water a week. District officials encourage customers to register for the free AquaHawk portal to monitor their water use in real time, as well as receive alerts when they are using too much water.

DSRSD is also offering free water-conserving devices and toilet leak detection tablets at its office. In addition, rebates are available for lawn conversions, weather-based irrigation controllers, pool and spa covers, and high-efficiency clothes washers, toilets and urinals.

For customers that want to keep their landscapes green, recycled water is available at DSRSD's Residential Recycled Water Fill Station. The water is free to any resident, not just DSRSD customers.

In order to help businesses and public buildings comply with local and state requirements, the water district has free signs for bathroom mirrors that aim to encourage customers to conserve water and report leaks to management. For restaurants, there are free signs available to inform customers that water can be served only on request.

More information about these programs can be found online.

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8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Thank you DSRSD for going the extra mile to make available the treated water filling stations. It really has helped to keep some similance of a kind-of-green lawn and flower garden for our property. The plants really love this water.
City of Pleasanton - DSRSD has created an application, AquaHawk, so that their customers can chart their water usage on a daily basis. What's the problem with our water department? Besides being confusing, our online application for the water customer is almost useless. What about a mobile app like AquaHawk that actually will help the customer conserve water. City Council - Instead of wasting taxpayer money on stupid radio commericals telling us what we already know, why not direct the water department to produce online and mobile apps that help the customer. And what's with billing cycles that can occur between 55 days and 72 days? This is crazy and does not promote planning for water conservation.

2 people like this
Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

The AquaHawk app is very good in that it allows customers to monitor their daily/hourly/monthly water usage.

Where the DSRSD fails miserably is in their employee contracts and/or escalating cost increases. Former Mayor Jennifer Hosterman commented on the DSRSD's rapidly escalating sewer rates during a council meeting. The rates have increased significantly over the past decade; well above inflation.

Part of the reason for the increase is very generous employee contracts which also provide a 2.7@55 pension formula for each year worked TIMES final year compensation, and retiree health care benefits. That is a very generous package for employees who retire in their fifties with six figure wages.

What the DSRSD also does is provide their employees with a $1,500 to $3,000 per year 401K contribution ("to encourage employees to save for retirement"). Why they feel the need to provide 401K contributions to employees with the highest level of pension benefits makes no sense other than they can get away with it, while passing the cost on to the consumer.

For some reason local government entities known as "Special Districts", like the DSRSD, seem able to do whatever they want with little to no oversight. That is the only way to explain the large pension benefits and the "gifted" 401K contributions (no match required), while they're also dealing with unfunded pension liabilities of their own.

You won't hear about that if you read their "award winning" audit!

Like this comment
Posted by Leilani
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

Does this article apply to Pleasanton - when I click WebSite it comes up with Dublin/San Ramon. If this does not apply to Pleasanton, what are our options.

4 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

Leilani - check your monthly Pleasanton water bill. About 50% of the bill goes to DSRSD for sewer costs. Water is cheap. It is the delivery and sewer costs that make the monthly bill seem so high. Kind of agree with you Arnold. There are over 2000 special water districts in California. All of them have extremely good employee benefits (golden spigot). On our bill we pay the city of Pleasanton Water Department, Zone 7 for delivery of water, and DSRSD for sewage treatment. What happened to just paying one entity, the water department? The water bill is starting to look like your property tax bill, everything including the kitchen sink is now on these bills.

Like this comment
Posted by AboutAquaHawk
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm

AquaHawk is a great alerting/monitoring tool, however, it works with smart water meters, which Pleasanton does not have. I would hope that Pleasanton will move to smart water meters in the future, but, there will be costs involved, and it takes time to do such a widespread installation. Many communities around the country have installed such meters, and many of those use AquaHawk (developed by a company in Colorado Springs)

6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 8, 2015 at 1:21 pm


Why in the world would we want more government intrusion in the form of AquaHawk???

Non-agricultural use of water in California amounts to 12% of the total. So 88% of the water consumed in California is agricultural. For example, it takes over 5 gallons of water to produce one head of broccoli, and just under 5 gallons of water for each walnut.

Yet Gov. Brown and the California legislature are not going to change anything to reduce the amount of water used by agriculture. His response to a question regarding this was,

"The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land....They're pulling up vines and trees. Farmworkers who are at the very low end of the economic scale here are out of work."


"But by the way, they're not watering their lawn or taking longer showers. They're providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America."

(See: Web Link)

Consider the fact that agriculture is only 2% of the California economy, and it becomes even crazier that they remain exempt from water restrictions.

So now Gov. Brown wants to solve the drought by enforcing a 25% cut on 12% of the water used in California. This will save about 2.75% of our water.

Again, we're asking for AquaHawk to watch our water usage, and report us to Big Brother, so we can save 2.75% of our water???? If we're "bad people" and only save 10%, then our savings would be 1.2% instead of 2.75%. We are not talking big numbers here. In the end, the difference will not make any difference.

Another crazy example of water use in California is in the Humbolt Bay District. They own rights on 50 million gallons of water per day that's connected to a paper mill that went out of business 20 years ago. They will have those rights until 2029, and don't intend to give them up. (See: Web Link) So they have too much water and are struggling with trying to use it all.

When agriculture is forced to cut 25%, and the Humbolt Bay District gives back their water rights, then maybe I'll listen to your crazy request for Big Brother to watch us.

4 people like this
Posted by Dublin H2O user
a resident of Dublin
on Apr 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I agree with Steve, more .gov intrusion with no creative solutions offered. Aqua Hawk has helped me reduce water usage so I guess it's effective at some level but I thought a couple years ago when the changed out the meters that it was for future spying on me, not better service for me.

But if you live in Dublin why save water anyway, this town is building a water park during a drought! Go figure.

Now we have water hawk spying on our water usage, smoke hawk (BAQMD) spying on my fireplace, hey .gov what's next on your spy plan? How about Traffic Hawk so when traffic sucks the .gov has to do something about it?

1 person likes this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 9, 2015 at 8:37 am

As we don't have smart meters in Pleasanton, and to make sure we were abiding by the 25% reduction, I learned how to read our water meter (not hard) and created a spreadsheet to calculate actual water usage each week, as well as forecast how much we use during the billing period. This has kept us on track so far.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm

My point was that DSRSD is doing something. Whether you agree with it or not at least they give you the tools to manage your water. The City of Pleasanton spends money on radio commericals. What they should be spending their money on is an efficent way for the citizens to figure out whether they are on track to meet the water restrictions. Mary has figured this out but how many people can read a meter, make a spreadsheet, figure out the billing cycle, and do the calculations to turn the collected data into something that makes sense. The City of Pleasanton could make an Excel application tied in with the users billing cycle available if they really wanted to help. But the city council would rather waste money on radio commericals telling us we are running out of water.

2 people like this
Posted by citizen
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 11, 2015 at 9:56 am

Still don't get it. Just read where we are using our water to fill those plastic water bottles and selling them nation wide. Yes the big water bottle companys are filling those plastic bottles with our dwindling drinking water supply. Why is that ongoing during a drought? Also cudos for city of American Canyon to stop putting in lawns to new houses. Here in Pleasanton, we are issuing permits for pools, and new development. Way to go city government.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 13, 2015 at 9:45 am

citizen -

And don't forget the $30 million dollar water park being built at Emerald Glen park in Dublin.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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