Pleasanton making progress on recycled water, and it shows

There's a reason for coloring these pipes purple

Some homeowners, responding to emergency water curtailment orders over the past two years, have torn out their frontyards to make them look like their backyard rock gardens, often with picturesque results.

Time will tell if this new curb appeal works when it comes time to sell.

Others with pickup trucks and time to spare have purchased large plastic tubs, making weekly trips to recycled water centers in Pleasanton or Dublin to fill up and then pump the water back at home to where it's needed. Their yards are as green as ever and at much less cost.

The city of Pleasanton has gone farther, installing over the last 12 months more than 10 miles of purple pipes to deliver non-potable water for irrigation purposes to landscapes in the Hacienda business community, to Ken Mercer Sports Park and to nearby parks and street medians. Each month, the purple pipes inch at bit farther with their tell-tale hydrants marking the extensions.

Stoneridge Creek on Staples Ranch shows the benefits of recycled water. Despite the drought conditions in the area, the grass has stayed green and the flowers are always blooming at Stoneridge Creek.

These pops of color have been made possible by the recycled water program the retirement community implemented through the city of Pleasanton three years ago, initially tapping into a nearby Livermore purple pipeline.

During the worst months of the drought, visitors marveled at how green the grass was at Stoneridge Creek, including some who grumbled about wasting precious drinking water until they saw "We use recycled water" signs.

The Oasis at Stoneridge Creek (pictured) was made possible by recycled water. Plant operations director Ty Kaufman is in charge of maintaining the system and testing the equipment. He knew the benefits of the program and the ways the community could save money while helping the city of Pleasanton achieve its conservation goal of reducing consumption by at least 10%.

The water is recycled through the city and used throughout the gardens. Though not suitable for human consumption, plants love it, and it minimizes the effects of the statewide drought.

Stoneridge residents are now getting in on the act by offering new ideas and ways to conserve drinking water as well. They've formed their own resident plant operations committee. Every month, they monitor the use of water and identify ways they could conserve even more.

Steve Kirkpatrick, city engineer, says that for Pleasanton as a whole, the new purple pipeline is saving the city about 10% of the drinking water we use, or about 450,000,000 gallons a year.

Why purple? It turns out that Keith Lewinger, a severely color-blind engineer who was working on designing the pipes for recycled water at the Southern California Irvine Ranch Water District, found that all the other pipe color designations that he could recognize were already spoken for. For example:

* blue pipes signify potable water

* green pipes signify sewers

* yellow pipes signify natural gas, oil, petroleum or other potentially flammable things

* orange pipes signify telecommunications

* red pipes are for power lines

* white pipes signify the markings where excavations and new pipe routes will go.

Purple hadn't previously been spoken for in the world of pipes and their various designations. So Lewinger chose the particular shade of lavender purple that he could see and the decision was made to use the color, which has become known as Irvine Purple.

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