News


Pleasanton imposing excess water use penalties despite rain

Regulations in place until state declares drought is over

Despite heavy rains and a good winter snowpack in the mountains, Pleasanton plans to continue its drinking water restrictions and has now resumed excessive use penalties.

"Last year, we reduced water use across the city by 24% compared to 2013, so we're doing quite well," said Kathy Yurchak, director of Community Services and the city's water department. "Even so, we're in a holding pattern right now to see what the state does. It's unlikely the state will declare an end of the drought."

Still, the latest news is good with regard to the drought, particularly for Pleasanton, the Tri-Valley and Northern California.

In a report to the City Council, Dan Martin, the city's utilities superintendent, said that with 20 inches of rain this winter season, "we're right about average."

"Even with no more rainfall this season, we'd be OK," he said.

Reservoirs that supply Zone 7 and Pleasanton with drinking water, including Lake Oroville, are still below their average capacity, although seeing rising levels. With melting snowpack, they should continue nearing capacity, Martin said. He noted that Lake Shasta is now at 106%, of capacity.

Reservoir capacity is not as good in Southern California, Martin added, which is why the state may continue water use restrictions, at least for another year.

"Even with the recent rainfalls, we're still just n the average range of water supplies, but not enough yet to reverse the drought," he said.

The effects of the drought are still seen in limited groundwater supplies. The groundwater basin refills from all the pumping in the past few years very slowly, Martin said. As of March 1, the statewide snowpack is holding at the average for this time of year.

Yesterday, when surveyors climbed in the Sierra Nevada, they found a welcome sight that wasn't there last year: snow.

Gov. Jerry Brown infamously made the trek to Phillips Station on April 1, 2015, and stood on dry grass where every year for the previous 75

years there had been snow.

Governors usually don't accompany surveyors on snowpack measurement missions, but standing there Brown did another thing no sitting governor had ever done before: he mandated that all Californians reduce their water use by 25%.

While this year's wet winter has left the drought-ridden state in far better shape than it was last year, snowpack levels are still below

average and officials with the state Department of Water Resources are still urging conservation.

Surveyors found 58.4 inches of snow at Phillips Station this year with a water content 97 percent of the long-term historical average.

Statewide, the snowpack water content is at 87 percent of average, according to state water officials.

Snowpack is estimated to be at its highest at about this time of year, as winter ends and the mountain snow begins to melt. Mountain runoff

helps keep reservoirs full throughout the year so it's vital to have sufficient snowpack to last through the dry months.

So while California's drought conditions aren't as dire as they were last year, the heavy rains this winter haven't been enough to end them

entirely.

In Pleasanton, starting now, all residents and businesses must achieve a 25% mandatory water reduction over their 2013 consumption or face penalties, Yurchak said. Outdoor irrigation is allowed only between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. and swimming pools must now be covered.

Scott Morris, Bay City News, contributed to this story

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 31, 2016 at 11:01 am

The reservoirs are so full that they are beginning to dump water, yet snow pack is a bit below normal? If we had enough precipitation to have above average snow pack, we would have begun dumping water even earlier.

Isn't it obvious that we need to stop dumping the reservoir water? We need to find underground storage and divert the excess so we have more available during the summer.


4 people like this
Posted by Local Capture of Runoff
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Mar 31, 2016 at 11:16 am

One of the largest problems Pleasanton has is that we get such a high percentage of our water only with the state government approval. No local control.

I wonder how feasible it would be to capture storm drain water, and at least pump/seep it into the groundwater tables (although Sacramento recently took control of those as well).

Yes there are some pollutants, but if these could be reduced to safe levels prior to injection we might gain. I for one would rather take my chances on this water than the "toilet-to-tap" solutions.

Even better than injection would be to build some large holding pond infrastructure which would give us more control over the water. It might even become part of the many parks throughout town (provided that you keep the geese out of the water).

The piping system is already in place, all that is needed is to divert the water just before it dumps into the arroyos. Once in the arroyos it belongs to the state.


2 people like this
Posted by TryingToBeSensible
a resident of West of Foothill
on Mar 31, 2016 at 1:55 pm

TryingToBeSensible is a registered user.

@Steve - Our reservoirs have a lot of requirements: flood control, hydroelectric generation, water storage, ecosystem management, etc. The managers of the reservoirs need to make estimates about how much capacity to reserve for flood control vs water storage vs all the other objectives at each point in the season. It's an unenviable task since if it rains buckets, flooding will occur, but if it doesn't rain, then we could have had more water storage or we could have had more releases for ecosystem management, etc.

@LocalCapture - Generally agree. Recapture should be part of the overall water discussion. Does anybody know of a useful forum for water management in our city? I am concerned about lack of local control as well.


29 people like this
Posted by Mac
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Mar 31, 2016 at 2:34 pm

We would have enough water if the city council would have stopped approving more housing 5,000 new resident ago. They do anything for the developers, except provide enough water to the Pleasanton citizen who voted them into office.


8 people like this
Posted by Brad
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 31, 2016 at 4:06 pm

@Mac Absolutely...build more housing (and worse yet, apartments) and create more of a problem so they can justify keeping the clamps down on our freedom to maintain our yards and gardens. As liberals always say...never let a crisis go to waste (even if you have to create one).


3 people like this
Posted by Suzy
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Mar 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm

California is still in a drought. it will take a while to get out of it.


18 people like this
Posted by Stupid system for penalties
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

I support water conservation. I support increasing the cost for those over 2013 levels. But it is INSANE the way our government bozos have decided to levy the punishment. 25% reduction against 2013 is fine as a target. A $50 fixed penalty makes sense if you go over. But $4 surcharge per unit for all usage during the period is crazy.

For those who don't understand the surcharge, it is charged back to unit 1 for that period. Let's say your 2013 usage was 100 units to make the math easy. Your goal this year would be 75% or less, so 75. If this year same period you use 76 units, you would be charged $50 penalty PLUS $4 x 76 units or $304 surcharge. That's dumb. Instead it should be a penalty of $50 plus $4 per unit over the 75% target. Going back to unit one has no logical justification.

Just another poorly thought out government program.


3 people like this
Posted by better system
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:23 am

The best system would be this -- if you fail to reduce by 25% you pay huge fines. If you do it again, your water is shut off. Just totally shut off. Take a look at the homes in Ruby Hill or other large lots around here. See the green lawns? They overuse and then just pay the fines. Cost of doing business. They need to be simply cut off.


14 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:27 am

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

It doesn't make sense to penalize people who put in landscaping and willing to pay for it at a higher rate, when the city is desperately trying to add thousands of new users in high density developments that might not even be individually metered.


1 person likes this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:32 am

Stupid System, the penalty system is spot-on. The idea is to punish water wasters via their pocketbooks. The algorithm used to determine the fine is not significant; the fact that there is a relatively large fine is.

Harsh words, minor fines, and public shaming don't work.


5 people like this
Posted by I'm awake
a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:37 am

Just another way for the government to fleece the people and line their pockets.


3 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:58 am

Just another reason why people are so fed up with government. Corrupt and representative of the people. Just came back from Orrgon and driving down 5 went over Shasta Lake and it is filled to the brim. By the way, Mt Shasta is covered with snow. Maybe we should restrict the amount of people we allow on the state. Maybe we are at peak population or over it.


20 people like this
Posted by AlamedaCountyNative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Apr 1, 2016 at 10:36 am

I have several friends who live in apartments in Pleasanton and Livermore. None have been told by apt owners or managers that they should restrict their water usage. The apt bldgs themselves freely water lawns during the day, hose down pool decks and generally waste water. What are the cities doing about this?


13 people like this
Posted by Roger Smith
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 1, 2016 at 11:29 am

I agree with all who are saying we need to have more storage and retain more water to recharge our wells and ground water. Cities need to think about water before allowing new homes to be built. Same for the state which is forcing cities to build more homes.
Another thing is that most of water from Northern California is shipped to Southern California where they enjoy big green lawns and swimming pools. Why should that be? Last year we visited family in Orange County and they did not seem to suffering the same cutbacks we were as most lawns were green unlike Pleasanton.
We have been doing so since 2014 when no other city had water rationing. Why?
Something needs to change. Maybe we need to start with the Board of Zone 7 our water supplier and the City Council.


4 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 11:45 am

I think this is all about money for the city coffers. Otherwise after conserving why would they raise our rates in January by 31.5%? Everything that is done in this city is to feed the monster of raising city and school salaries and pensions. Have to have the money.


4 people like this
Posted by Huh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Susan the city didn't raise water rates 31%. Zone 7 raised the rate it sells water to the cities it serves by over 30% and then proceeded to give the general manager a 15% raise.

And once again city and school coffers are completely separate from each other. Please know your facts!


7 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Huh,

Don't be a nerd. The state, county, city, and in your case the water district is looking for any penny of revenue they can come up with. Regardless of GM raise, school bond, teachers raises, city workers raises and benefits. Anyway you slice it those things need to be fed. The government does nothing unless it for money. Whenever you do not know the answer follow the money and there lies the answer.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 1, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

We are still in a drought. What ever formula the city can put fourth to curtail excessive use is okay with me.

What disappoints me is the Tri Valley governments ignoring desalination and its possibilities!

Also, capturing and holding runoff is positive thinking that needs serious participation in the discussion from the Tri Valley governments.


10 people like this
Posted by Susie
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 2, 2016 at 6:01 pm

When there is a drought, then it is only prudent to decrease water use and I don't object to conservation of our water. But, when I see massive housing units in every corner of our town, then I object to living like a desert rat. Fine me, I just don't care. And I'll vote against every existing council and Zone 7 member. Government no longer has any common sense--it only rewards those who can get their hands on our money.


2 people like this
Posted by Susie
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 2, 2016 at 6:01 pm

When there is a drought, then it is only prudent to decrease water use and I don't object to conservation of our water. But, when I see massive housing units in every corner of our town, then I object to living like a desert rat. Fine me, I just don't care. And I'll vote against every existing council and Zone 7 member. Government no longer has any common sense--it only rewards those who can get their hands on our money.


2 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 2, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Ditto


Like this comment
Posted by BK
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2016 at 11:54 am

Latest News in - "California suspends water restrictions as drought eases".
So I don't understand why should Pleasanton still continue with such harsh usage penalties. Usage should be eased / lowered to about 15% (or 40 units). Either way penalties surcharge for every unit consumed makes no sense.
Is there some forum to oppose this or register citizens concern against these penalties specially in the view of sate restrictions being eased this year.


Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Del Prado
on May 29, 2016 at 9:48 am

We need to stop Pleasanton Concrete/ready mix.They wash their truck down with high pressure fire hoses,for no reason. I would guess they waste 20% of Pleasantons water.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Birdland
on May 31, 2016 at 5:32 am

It really ticks me off that all of us are required to conserve water and are penalized if we don't and then hundreds of new housing units are being built. We have to watch our water use so there is enough for all the NEW residents.
That is just not right. STOP the building! If there isn't enough water for us why should we have to give up some of it for them!


Like this comment
Posted by andy
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jun 10, 2016 at 7:44 pm

I don't think the water units used reported correctly. I just got my water bill for the period Apr 8 -Jun 3 ,2016. The bill showed the last date for the reading was 1272 on Jun 3,2016 (reading date). However, since I tracked my water reading every day, I had reading of 1272 unit on May 26. On Jun. 3, my reading was 1287 units. The errors are 17 units, that is almost impossible. I guess the city did not read the meter on Jun. 3, instead it read on May 26 but reported it as Jun 3.
The understating my Apr-Jun period water usage could cause the reading of my Jun to Aug period of water usage to exceed the city water saving requirements even if I did meet the city requirements.
The errors from the reading makes the water saving plan more difficult. I wonder if the over usage due to the city reading errors can still result in penalty or not ??


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Contact the city, they will make the corrections.
I had a similar experience, I contacted the city, they came out re-read the meter and made the necessary corrections.


Like this comment
Posted by andy
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 11, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Michael, thanks for the suggestions.

I think since the water conservation penalty IS PURELY based on the readings of units of water used, If the reading errors can be as much as 30% of the actual water usage, then the bases for impose the penalty would be vanished, then the penalty for over usage of the water shall be suspended until the city can make sure the reading is accurate . Otherwise it would not be fair to our residents.

As an engineer, I don't believe that the error can be caused by the automatic meter reading system based on the today's technologies, it is more likely that the actual date that the city collected the meter readings was altered. My record showed that the the city more likely read my water meter number on May 27 or 28 instead of Jun 3 as they stated. The way the error occurred makes us more likely get penalty in the hottest Jun to August billing period.

I am going to contact the city to ask them to fix the meter reading problem or suspend the penalty for over usage.


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

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