News

Penalties for excess water use could be reinstated by City Council tonight

2013 billing cycles would continue as baseline

The Pleasanton City Council will be asked tonight to reinstate monetary penalties for businesses and residents whose use of water exceeds the mandated 25% reduction based on comparable water bills in 2013.

The penalties were dropped for 90 days last January as water department managers awaited possible rainfall during the winter months, which didn't happen.

"With the return of hot weather, it is recommended that the excess use penalties be reinstated effective May 15," said Daniel Smith, director of operations Services states in his report to be presented to the council tonight.

The 25% mandated cut in water use means:

Cutting back on lawn sprinkling to 12 minutes a week and never in daytime.

No car washing in driveways; use commercial car washes only that recycle their water.

No topping off swimming pools unless they have covers, and no new pools or refills be allowed in Pleasanton during the water crisis.

To encourage residents and businesses to conserve, Dublin and Livermore have raised rates across the board. Pleasanton's rules keep rates the same, but add penalties if 25% reductions aren't made based on comparisons with consumption in the same water billing period in 2013.

These can be steep. Customers who fail to meet the 25% mandatory cutback will be charged an additional $4 per unit of water used above that amount and fined $50. For a second offense, the extra unit charge goes to $8 with a $100 penalty; a third time will cost $12 a unit and a $250 penalty; a fourth violation will raise the unit cost to $12 with a $500 penalty.

Smith said waivers will be issued for those water users who long ago cut back and whose bills prove it. Also exempted will be families that have added newborns or older relatives in their households since a year ago. It's the big users Smith and his department are going after. Getting those customers to comply with the 25% cut will go a long way toward solving Pleasanton's water shortage, Smith said.

Smith's report on drought conditions and his recommendation for reinstating water use penalties are part of a packed agenda facing the council at tonight's meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by force the city to comply also
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I currently water my lawn zero minutes a week, it will simply die again as it did last summer. The city must be held to the same twelve minutes per week when watering any city lawns or parks. I don't care if they city has cut back overall 25% or more, they must NEVER water ANY lawns more than twelve minutes per week.

Last year the lawn at Lion's Wayside park, where the Friday concerts are held, was so lush and green it showed no signs of stress at all. They not only watered it for two hours twice per week they watered it all the way to the edges which also covered the sidewalks in water. This will stop right now or I will be the first one to contact the state water resources board and send photos of the overwatered lawns to the press.

Again, I don't care at all what amount the city cut back from their former waste. NO MASSIVE LAWN WATERING, ever again. If the residents are required to suffer then the city can live with brown parks until they get those pipes put in for reclaimed water.


16 people like this
Posted by SUNSHINE
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 21, 2015 at 9:03 am

Amen to "force the city to comply"!

My lawn has never come back after no watering from last year. Looking for alternatives to grass or letting natives take over. Meanwhile most of my neighbors have lush beautiful lawns. I walk in the evening and see rivers of water pouring straight down the street drains from from neighbors' irrigation systems. Something isn't right….


16 people like this
Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 9:36 am

It was short-sighted and ignorant to ever relax the policy, it needs to be re-instated now.

The city also needs to step up its game on reclaimed water for parks and fields. I can't believe how much fresh water is still used to keep fields green, it's embarrassing.

This problem is NEVER going to go away. Even if we have a good snow year, it won't ever go away. Not ever. Ever never never ever. Is my point getting across?

Take steps now to build water security for the future. That means purifying waste water in to potable water (it's cheaper than de-salinization and proven). It means using grey water on parks and fields. It means keeping restrictions where they're at.

If the City Council wants to show leadership, then now is a great time to start acting for a water-rich future of Pleasanton that everyone can agree on.


11 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 21, 2015 at 9:58 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

It was crazy to relax the penalties. Reinstate them now. I call for a moratorium on building permits until we have reclaimed water purified and put back in the drinking water supply.


2 people like this
Posted by Tom Le
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:02 am

Tom Le is a registered user.

The proposed fee formula unfairly punishes those who conserved water the last 2 years during the non-mandatory conservation campaigns.

For example, the previous residents at our property were using 42 units. When we moved in, we reduced that to between 14-22 units (more in summer). But if the 25% reduction is compared to 2013 usage, those who took NO conservation action during 2013 can more easily reduce their usage, while those of us who are already optimally conserving will have a much harder time to reduce even further.

The fee formula needs to be tiered in a way that includes BOTH prior 2013 usage *and* some fair baseline to account for size of household. My suggestion - include a floor usage based on dwelling size & size of household (though I recognize size of household data harder to obtain). *** If are below that floor ***, no penalty should be accessed regardless of whether you hit 25% reduction or not.


12 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Residential water use makes up less than 20% of all California water use. Everyone letting their lawns go brown is going to only make the smallest of dents into solving the water problem while California agriculture uses up 80% of the state's water. Take a look at this article on California's water situation by The Economist:

..............................
"THE first rule for staying alive in a desert is not to pour the contents of your water flask into the sand. Yet that, bizarrely, is what the government has encouraged farmers to do in the drought-afflicted south-west. Agriculture accounts for 80% of water consumption in California, for example, but only 2% of economic activity. Farmers flood the land to grow rice, alfalfa and other thirsty crops. By one account, over the years they have paid just 15% of the capital costs of the federal system that delivers much of their irrigation water. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that they would waste far less of it, and the effects of California’s drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe."
(from "The Drying of the West" in The Economist: Web Link )


1 person likes this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

We cut back drastically last year, we haven't gone back to watering our lawns since then. Cutting back another 25% over last year may be challenging. I do read that they are going after the big users and waivers will be in place for customers who have cut back. Hope to get more clarification on what the comparison looks like for each property, and help in setting goals for usage.


6 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:16 am

@Mom: "We cut back drastically last year, we haven't gone back to watering our lawns since then. Cutting back another 25% over last year may be challenging."

It's not another 25% cut over last year. It's a 25% cut over 2013 or, in other words, the same as last year. Also, if it's all like last year then there will also be an exemption for households that use less than a certain amount of water over a 3-month time period. I think the exemption was for something like less than 60 units of water over a 3-month period last year.


5 people like this
Posted by Single Senior
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

It has already been announced on radio, that "Pleasanton is charging fines"!! Is that business, or city, or both, and separate from individuals??
I live alone and already cut back last year. Unless I never shower or flush there is no cut back left. Has an urban 'survival base' been established? My HOA sets sprinkler heads to miss plants and water driveways, we EACH pay our OWN bills. The city sprinkler heads need to be checked. I think it is a huge mistake, to allow giant green trees to die in our parks. Seeing dying trees and brown leaves last Summer was misplaced 'overkill'. Choices, choices. Grass is temporary, trees should not be treated as temporary!! Trees provide cool shade, and should be allowed to 'last' for decades. Let us not be a penny wise, and a pound foolish, with prices to be paid later.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hotslide
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Apr 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

You must realize that the city council is stacked with real estate people and developers, and the chance that there will be a moratorium on home building or other construction until water resources recover is humorous. They are looking out for number 1, not you. And Jerry Moonbeam solicits all of South America to walk right in for free treats. Yet, not too long ago, it was written that Pleasanton is just a "sleepy bedroom community" Yea, real sleepy. Real dry too.


4 people like this
Posted by Waterlogged
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Damen is right on. This ridiculous notion of saving the State by cutting residential usage is nonsense - when more than 4/5 of the water is being used by agricultural users. Your reducing shower time by a few minutes or cutting back on an occasional car washing will make an insignificant difference. People, start doing the math and wake up. Your City leaders are falling for a hoax perped by the Governors office that will not admit that the water for crops is most of the water. But you go ahead and inflict fines on each other and stir things up a bit. Stupid hurts, and it should.


5 people like this
Posted by Single Senior
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Tim T, absolutely, grey water should be used for city, parks, and large commercial properties.
However, didn't you learn to never say never. This earth has endured many, many changes and cycles, many droughts, many floods, many ice ages followed by many warming periods. To a great extent, this earth will do what this earth does. CA for California's own good, does need to adapt to this temporary California draught of unknown time.


1 person likes this
Posted by non resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:32 pm

First of all the state has their priorities backwards, tax dollars need to be used to find a solution quick, but you'll run out of water before that happens. Desalination is the only answer, yes it will be an expensive process but it will drastically relieve strain by using the water after its recycled for crops, lawn etc. The salt that is taken out needs to be saved and can be processed for table salt, or use for the northern states that use it for deicing, you don't know this, but there was a salt shortage in winter of 2013. So if you want to survive than you will do just this, oh and tell nestle to stop bottling and selling water, since as far as I know they were still bottling.


1 person likes this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Do these city "czars" really believe car washing is really going to save all that water? And how are they going to enforce the 12 minute limit a week lawn watering? I can bet you if everyone actually did that all of Pleasanton will have tumbleweeds across everyone's front lawn. Maybe we will sit outside Dan Smith's house with a stop watch.


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm

A thousand likes for Damon's comment about residential water use being only 20% of the total. It is all about agriculture. It wouldn't matter if everyone left California altogether. Agriculture would still be using more water than could be supplied if the drought persists.


3 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

If the state wanted to solve this problem permantently they would start to build multiple desalinization plants along the coast. They could pipe the water to strategic areas for distribution. If our descendants and migrant workers can move water from Hetch Hetchy years ago to Crystal Springs Reservoir with little to no technology, go figure.... Yes the water would cost more but there would be a permanent solution. The money would not be wasted on a High Speed Bullet Train to nowhere. Wind Power and Solar Power would work perfectly fine on the coast. Farmlands would benefit, ground water could be replenished. There are so many benefits, but I guess our Governor can't figure it out yet. Pretty sad that common sense projects have taken a back seat to Special Interests, egos and Legacies!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 4:58 pm

@Single Senior, Let's say that we follow my recommendations. Let's say that you're also right, things bounce back. What have we done? We've become better managers of our ever-limited resources. Yes, the earth has gone through changes but not with a 10 Billion population and growing that all want the same resources.

Plan now for that future.


Like this comment
Posted by SAHM
a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm

My landlord insists we water the yard and as the water bill has always been my responsibility I fear I will incur a fine or be evicted if the plants die . We usually grow food and flowers for cutting but have put a stop to anything new bring planted this year in case we get evicted . The housing association where I live insist the communal areas are watered 2 x a week and have already adjusted the sprinklers on each home manually as they have access to the boxes. We have received a note stating if the lawn in the communal area dies we have to replace it .
We have always conserved water so the 2013 rates are low for my family. I know that this summer is going to be tough especially if the water features in the playgrounds are turned off again . Summer is no fun at all with a preschooler in Pleasanton if we cannot cool off somehow
I wonder how much outrage their would be if golf clubs had to water only 12 hours a week?. And I wonder how green all of the gated communities will remain this year? If it's anything like last year they will remain green and pristine?
New builds should have to have native planting in the same way they cannot have a new pool installed . Just a few thoughts running around my head today!


Like this comment
Posted by Rhel
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 21, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Rhel is a registered user.

Non-Resident, remember that there is more than just salt in that ocean water that will be desalinated. There will also be miniscule amounts of rare earths, lots of plastic microbeads, oil, etc., which will preclude making table salt. As for shipping the stuff to the East Coast, have at!


7 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 21, 2015 at 6:59 pm

It ticks me off every time this subject comes up. I cannot understand how the city can possibly justify all the new building that is in the works. If there isn't enough water and we have to cut our usage by 25% how is bringing in so many new people going to help that?
We did cut our usage by the required 25% as did a whole lot of people. We have and are doing our part. It is totally unfair that this city will allow new homes to be built.


2 people like this
Posted by Single Senior
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 7:18 pm

So, Tim T you just want state & federal governments to create laws and taxing agencies to control personal behaviors....just because???? Like... well...just in case??? Actually, you answered the real problem yourself...
10 Billion population!! I agree with you. In my world condoms would be a requirement to continue on welfare. And primarily, the Pope would be distributing condoms to all his countries in poverty....there is a 'connection' as to 'why' certain obvious countries are in deep poverty. It seems cruel to me for poverty to continue breeding more poverty. He's looking for aid for the world's poverty pockets. FIRST, stop the bleeding!Aid is temporary. The problem continues without responsible breeding
practices, where every child is 'wanted', and yes, world resources to provide for each additional birth. That would include 'family' resources to care for their creation. Some of us behave responsibly in some areas, many more do not!


Like this comment
Posted by Single Senior
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Tim T, you and others might enjoy hearing the Pres of CA water agencies, and EBMUD member on Ronn Owens, kgo 11:00am Tues 21. Go to kgo 7 day archives. Interesting discussion about 'population', illegals, births, new construction, and more. CA population has increased 30% since 1976.


Like this comment
Posted by Joan
a resident of Parkside
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:17 pm

The article is wrong again, just like last year. It states the fine will be for water units used OVER the limit. This is not the case. EVERY drop used is fined if you go over your allowed units. ALSO, How will Pleasanton justify this now that a SoCal court has said its illegal to charge more than it costs to purchase and deliver the water. Sounds like this 'revenue' scam will be blown.


2 people like this
Posted by Lynn
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:58 am

I do believe Pleasanton is one of the few cities in the East Bay that is enforcing the water rationing by fining residents of "overusage". Others are just requesting cutting back with no fines. I agree with most people in that our cutting back is not going to put a dent in the water shortage. I use minimal water as much as I can but have 4-5 people living in the house and a pool to maintain water in during the summer months. There are many pools in Pleasanton and only so much you can do to maintain the water level. It is covered as much as possible. We take shorts showers, do full loads of laundry and dishes, cut back on the yard watering, etc. Like others have said, the City needs to cut back on their watering. During our bocce games at the Senior Center, the grass is being watered almost the whole time we are there for an hour and a half. It's very lush and green as are all the parks in town. So us residents need to have brown lawns, but the city parks do not. This doesn't seem very fair. And if you are trying to sell your home, it really makes for an unattractive viewing. The real answer is allowing the state to build more reservoirs. We currently do not have enough to house all the water we do get to catch. Or we can get our water piped in like we do for LA. Seems like the only business to get into these days is owning a car wash. They are packed every day because we aren't allowed to wash our own cars. Those owners must be happy.


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

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