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Zone 7 declares drought emergency; mandatory 15% water use reduction

Original post made on Sep 2, 2021

Dry conditions combined with low water storage this year prompted the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors to unanimously declare a drought emergency on Wednesday night, including mandatory 15% water use reduction.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 2, 2021, 6:39 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by Jo
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 2, 2021 at 8:36 pm

Jo is a registered user.

how about a 15% reduction in pay to z7 employees for the terrible water that is provided.


Posted by Joe V
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 3, 2021 at 11:56 am

Joe V is a registered user.

Everyone is aware, or should be aware, that we are in a drastic drought. Asking for a 15% mandatory reduction of water use for everyone is arbitrary. Many have already let their lawns go dry, or replaced them with turf, and others have voluntarily reduced their water use by 15% or more previously, because they are conscience of the situation we are all in. This reduction of water needs to be addressed accordingly with how much water a household uses. Consideration for lot size, and the number of people in the household could be considered. Some might disagree with this approach, if that is the case, explain why you do so.


Posted by Randy S Mitchell
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 3, 2021 at 1:35 pm

Randy S Mitchell is a registered user.

Especially for those of us new to the area, a Map of Area 7, would be helpful?


Posted by Shpcapt
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 3, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Shpcapt is a registered user.

Fully agree with Joe V . We do not have any green grass as we changed all that to native plants and reduced our water usage by 40-45% from 2012-2013. So to ask us to further reduce 15% is neither viable nor fair. So some different parameters should be used


Posted by Jo
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 4, 2021 at 7:37 pm

Jo is a registered user.

My backyard has been dead for years.. my front yard lawn is almost there. I only water my trees. Sorry the only way I can cut back is yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down from the 70's. Zone7 go to hell.


Posted by Shpcapt
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 6, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Shpcapt is a registered user.

Ca residents voted in 2014 to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build storage capacity for water but our great politicians have not done a thing about it. Really sad


Posted by been there
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 7, 2021 at 9:51 am

been there is a registered user.

I agree with all of the above comments. And if this is "mandatory", how will you punish the violators? Will you cut off their water when they reach your arbitrary reduction amount? Or impose some ridiculous fine? Which will not result in using less water, only irritate an already irate public. Zone 7 had better come up with better solutions than demanding a reduction in use. There is likely a deeper agenda at work here including forcing the injection of recycled sewage into the aquifer. (That's where DSRSD plays a role.) The misnomer of Potable Reuse.
In an effort to at least APPEAR to be considerate of the rate payers, how about Zone 7 demand all new developments be double plumbed? That's where your reused sewage could actually be useful.
How about they fess up to developers and City Councils that they simply don't have the water to meet demand, either currently or in the future.? That would end the debates on how to meet an arbitrary housing goal. No more new housing developments; period. It's called a moratorium.
Threatening residents with penalties does nothing to increase the availability of this precious resource : WATER. It's time to come to grips with your reality Zone 7. You can squeeze all you want, but as Gramma used to say "you can't get blood out of a turnip." or in this case, "water from a stone."


Posted by Craig
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 7, 2021 at 11:59 am

Craig is a registered user.

I also agree with Joe V, my front yard is dead and everything in the house is low flow. Better give us a gallon per day usage goal. I think it was 50 gallons per day per person during the last drought 3 or 4 years ago. By the way where is the poop water at? I still have a tank and pump.


Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 7, 2021 at 1:04 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

@ Randy Mitchell, welcome to the wonderful world of water in the Tri-Valley. So far, you're hearing from those who love to complain about the water with little or no understanding of how water delivery works. If you go to www.zone7water.com, you can find a map there. Sign up for the newsletter and explore their new and improved website.
Zone 7 is the water wholesaler for the Tri-Valley cities of Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon. Each city then sells and bills its own residents for the water and sewer under the heading "utility" bill.
When the last drought came, Jo and Joe V are correct. Residents cut back a whopping 45% of their water use. They are also incorrect in some aspects of their disgruntled posts here. Water usage has crept back up, though not quite to the pre-drought volumes we saw before 2014.
If their lawns are brown, that's because they haven't bothered to look carefully enough at how they use water and how they can maintain an attractive landscape and still keep to minimum usage.
When Zone 7 declares an emergency, it allows the cities to do what they need in order to keep the water flowing and costs as low as they can. Zone 7 does NOT set each city's water rate. The retailer (city) does. Pleasanton is working on that water rate study at this very time.
If the Joes had watched the last Zone 7 Board meeting, they would know their point about the inability to cut more after having already cut before was brought up by one of the board members. The point was also made it remains to be seen what the state will say about fines, etc. Compliance is an issue they forgot to address.
Rules is rules, you know.
Stricter regulations for landscaping new construction is already in place, but I'm running out of words. New construction has smaller landscape allowances and the big, thirsty lawns are becoming a thing of the past. And the city, not Zone 7, set those rules, so Zone 7s emergency declaration simply starts the process.


Posted by Randy S Mitchell
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 7, 2021 at 1:20 pm

Randy S Mitchell is a registered user.

keeknlinda - thank you


Posted by Joe V
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 7, 2021 at 2:18 pm

Joe V is a registered user.

To @keeknlinda..Please, don't label me as disgruntled, or include me with others who are. I didn't write negatively about Zone7 or anyone else responsible for our water.
Just trying to point out to the City of Pleasanton, the ones responsible for any rate changes, that many residents have already cut back on their water usage, and others have not, and that some households use a lot more water than others. So they are fair in considering a rate increase.


Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 7, 2021 at 2:54 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

@JoeV my apologies. There were so many prior comments, I mistakenly muddled yours into the mix. As to your own last remark, I must respectfully disagree. Here's why. The logistics of examining some 80,00 (give or take) housing units to actually do a headcount of each household, determine lot size and type of landscape is just too big to be feasible. As you appear to be one of the more logical voices in this conversation, I'm certain if you think about it you'll realize that.
As Zone 7 Board members discussed it at their last meeting, and water officials in Pleasanton have suggested to me, there will probably be an exemption for already low-water users. It remains to be seen just what that quantity of units will be, but I'm guessing it will be along the lines of under 20 or 25 units. Truth be told, there is no way to make it completely equitable, they simply will need to do the best they can, and I believe staff is quite capable of doing that. They're ratepayers too, so it is in their own best interest to do it as fairly as possible. The trick will be convincing the council they have crunched the numbers in the best possible manner.
In the meantime, perhaps we should all do our part in praying for rain and holding rain dance events at the fairgrounds. Perhaps even some cloud seeding. At any rate, hang onto your seats, 'cause we're in for a bumpy ride.
We're in a genuinely tough spot here, and water solutions literally take years from conception completion. Issues of water rights, availability of materials, regulatory requirements, and just plain locating a firm to carry out the projects are much too time consuming for there to be any quick fixes.


Posted by bill
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Sep 8, 2021 at 8:18 am

bill is a registered user.

Does anyone have an answer on the reclaimed water we were able to use several years ago. And why it went away. It was popular and successful. Why was the program disbanded and will it come back.


Posted by Pat K
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 8, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Pat K is a registered user.

Repeating some of the earlier thoughts: When will there be a moratorium on new construction?; What's the plan for more use of recycled water/additional storage capacity, etc? I think we Californian's need to realize that this clearly isn't a short term problem and must get serious about preserving scarce resources.


Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 8, 2021 at 6:30 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

In response to issues raised here by both Bill and Pat K, I queried Pleasanton's water operations people regarding the DSRSD program that was dropped. Here is the email I received back from Kathleen Yurchak, who is in charge of Operations for the City of Pleasanton.

Hi Linda,



Todd forwarded me your email. DSRSD suspended its residential recycled water fill station after the last drought and due to construction at its wastewater treatment plant. DSRSD determined that it was no longer safe for the public to access their plant for recycled water. However, DSRSD and the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore are exploring an alternative site for a joint residential recycled water fill station for 2022. Preliminary discussions and site improvements have been discussed and at last night’s DSRSD’s Board meeting, the Board expressed its support for proceeding with project development.



So, we are working collaboratively to bring a joint residential recycled water fill station to fruition for Tri-Valley residents in 2022.



Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any additional information.



Concerning a construction moratorium, I am unaware of plans for any such action. Bear in mind the construction you see happening now was approved as much as 10 years ago. The cogs at city hall turn very slowly, almost sloth-like it sometimes seems.


For anyone interested in matters such as pending projects for increased storage capacity, new water sources, supply and reliability issues, I'd urge you strongly to visit www.Zone7water.com. The answers are there, the website has recently been seriously upgraded, and it's all free for the reading. If you're really interested, try tuning into a zoomed Board of Directors meeting or even the finance or one of the other committee meetings. You can familiarize yourself with the inner workings of our water wholesaler and gain insight into the intricacies of delivering water to the tri-valley.


Posted by @Resident001
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Sep 8, 2021 at 9:54 pm

@Resident001 is a registered user.

Joe V is entirely correct.

Often the people have been doing their part to conserve water for years get screwed and those who have been wasting water come out just fine.

When I was kid in the 70's in San Francisco, my Father made our family conserve water like crazy, limiting shower time, re-using rain water, limiting toilet flushing, no running faucets while brushing teeth.. you name - just trying to do our part "before" the state was in water trouble.

Well the drought came and guess what, we were told to cut our "current water usage" by 25%... and our neighbors who were wasting water like crazy for two year were told to do the the same. So how was that fair!

I know that was long time ago, and a few folks here mentioned that there "will probably be an exemption for current low water users".... but I have my doubts based on past experience.

It does not seem that difficult to compare a household water usage from two years ago to today - to see who has made an effort to conserve water and who has not - so acknowledge and reward that effort. The "logistics" of this analysis are not difficult, all the usage data is already been collected.


Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 9, 2021 at 11:45 am

keeknlinda is a registered user.

@Resident001. I thought I had tried to explain that what you are suggesting as "fair" is what will most likely happen, as it did last time. There is a threshold that will be set, not yet determined, but based on past experience, probably between 20 and 30 units. If a utility billing account's usage is under that threshold, there will not be a penalty.
In fact, a penalty has not yet even been determined. Besides, we're talking about Pleasanton utility bills here, not San Francisco.

If you watched last Tuesday's City Council meeting, you'll know that rates very probably will be going up for 2022 by an estimated $10 per bi-monthly bill, but not because of drought, rather because of necessary infrastructure upgrades relating to PFAS/PFOS removal measures and 3 older wells which need to be relined and/or replaced. I have questioned the wisdom of doing the PFAS before state and federal regulators have determined how much treatment is required, but it is explained that the wells require attention, and it is much less costly to do the two projects at the same time.

If you didn't watch (it lasted until past 11:00, so I wouldn't think of criticizing anybody for not sticking with it), you can view it on Community TV 29 or Youtube.

The water rate study group will be finally meeting again in the next couple of months after being placed on hiatus through the pandemic and delays in preliminary work which staff needed to complete before the study group meets again.

For what it's worth, I'm one of the residents serving with that study group, as Pleasanton recognized the value of having just plain ratepayers input as well as members of the business community. They are listening to us as we continue to advocate for reasonable water rates and have recognized it is important to view the process through our lens as well. So I expect the process to be fairer than what you experienced in San Francisco.


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