News

City declares water shortage

Recycled water system expansion in the works

Despite the rain this week, City Council members unanimously voted to declare a water shortage emergency on Tuesday, asking residents to take measures to reduce water use to reach a 10 percent reduction goal.

"Even though it's raining now, we are so far behind a typical rainy season," said council member Mike Kasperzak. "We have had bad droughts in the past, we muddle through them. Water is more important now and becoming scarcer and scarcer with climate change."

City officials presented a list of six water uses that are always prohibited, which residents and businesses are asked to be careful to adhere to during the so-called "stage one" water shortage:

-- Wasting water from broken or defective water systems. Time allowed for repairs is 10 days.

-- Using water in a manner that results in flooding or runoff into the gutter.

-- Cleaning hard-surfaced areas with a hose unless equipped with a shutoff valve.

-- Washing vehicles with a hose unless equipped with a shutoff valve.

-- Serving water in a restaurant, except upon request.

-- Operating single-pass cooling systems.

Those prohibitions are usually enforced on a complaint basis, but not during water shortages. And anyone who is caught and ignore notices about the problem from the city, faces a penalty: city code "authorizes the city to install flow-restriction devices on the water service line of a customer who violates the water conservation provisions."

"If you read the ordinance, we're going to bend over backwards not to turn people's water off," said council member Jac Siegel. "There two to three notices, an appeals hearing hopefully they will respond with these many different ways we will contact them."

In the early 1990s, there was a drought bad enough to require a 25 percent reduction, said Elizabeth Flegel, water conservation coordinator. If such a "stage two" water shortage happens soon, residents will be asked not to wash their cars with a hose, to not turn on irrigation systems from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and to not use water in decorative water fountains, among a slew of other things.

Expanding recycled water system

The city uses a whopping 10.5 million gallons of potable water per day. City Council members indicated support in a study session Tuesday for expanding the city's recycled water system to save as much as 520,000 gallons of potable water a day in a few years.

Kasperzak told the Voice that the project to lay 23,000 feet of purple recycled water pipeline could be "shovel-ready" by the end of 2015 to take advantage of a state loan program.

"This could be something that happens relatively quickly, the whole point being to reduce demand for potable water," Kasperzak said.

The existing recycled water system -- fed by the Palo Alto water treatment plant -- already saves nearly a million gallons of water per day, with estimated peak use of the recycled water system expected to rise to 1.38 million gallons a day when the project is complete.

The city already has 39,000 feet of pipe serving 84 customers in North Bayshore, mostly office campuses. The city's golf course no longer uses recycled water because of concerns about its effects on the greens.

The expansion in the works could serve another 145 acres in North Bayshore and 500 acres at NASA Ames, where Google is set to build a new campus on a 40-acre section within city limits known as the Bayview Parcel. Plans showed recycled water lines stretching from the Bayview Parcel, on the northwest corner of NASA Ames -- where Stevens Creek meets the bay -- to Moffett Field's Ellis Street gate near Highway 101.

The next phase could add 23,000 feet of pipe to 31 customers at a cost of $13.4 million to $16.8 million, with much of the NASA portion likely to be paid for by Google as it develops in the area, said the city's deputy public works director, Greg Hosfeldt. Google is inclined to use recycled water in its buildings to flush toilets as well as for landscaping, he said. The line also would serve NASA users but the extent to which NASA would contribute to the cost is "to be determined"

The cost will "hopefully be offset by a very low interest loan and some state grants to drop that number significantly," Hosfeldt said.

City staff and City Council members have concluded that it isn't cost effective at this point to extend the system south of Highway 101, though four other options were presented for extending the system to downtown, the Whisman area, El Camino Hospital, and numerous parks and apartment complexes throughout the city.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shonda Ranson
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Just wanted to let Mountain View residents know that since the 10% voluntary water reduction was announced at the beginning of the year, the numbers the City got back from our water providers demonstrated our residents exceeded voluntary reductions in the month of February (the last month for which we've received full data).

So THANK YOU all for doing your part, and keep up the great work.

-Shonda Ranson
Communications Coordinator
City of Mountain View


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:24 am

Last year we conserved so much water that the city had to scrape funds together to pay the water dept. Does our contract with the utility put us at risk this year? Or is there an exception for droughts ?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by and,,,,
a resident of Slater
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

And lets keep building high density housing so we can even use more water, then the political blowhards can tell us how we need to cut back, and take credit for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

"And lets keep building high density housing so we can even use more water"

High density housing uses less water per person than low density housing.
If you don't like the density of Mountain View, please move to Los Altos.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @Steve
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I live in high density housing (in Mountain View)and landlord pays the water bill. So I use as much as I want, 30 minute showers, could care less about cutting back.

More housing equals more water usage dumbo!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Nature abhors a vacuum, @Steve. Don't try to live in one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Hey Kasperzak your unlimited construction philosophy flies in the face of your "water is more important now" blather.
Of course it's the residents who have to cut back, so the developers will have more water.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

Rossta is a registered user.

When there is a moratorium on building, then I will believe there is a water crisis.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @Rossta
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

You and everyone else on here saying the same, are so correct. Why are we building more and more? Until that stops, I won't even consider this as a drought.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @Rossta
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

You and everyone else on here saying the same, are so correct. Why are we building more and more? Until that stops, I won't even consider this as a drought.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Apr 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Maher is a registered user.

We (Californians) are in a decade long drought that is likely to continue due to the climate destroying effects of China's current industrial revolution pollutants which come to us on the trade winds. This effect was predicted 20 years ago btw. The problem is not going away.
Ironically, the disastrous growth of the Sahara can be traced to USA's drifting on the trade winds pollutants. China is using us as role model for building its wealth.

I agree with folks on this blog who point out the contradiction vav City Council's addiction to mindless growth in the name of progress vs the increasing need to conserve H2O. These two dynamics cannot succeed for anyone eventually.

BUT... idiotic adolescent statements like Steve from Waverly Park "I live in high density housing (in Mountain View)and landlord pays the water bill. So I use as much as I want, 30 minute showers, could care less about cutting back.

More housing equals more water usage dumbo!"

are worse than the CC's mistakes. It's people like this Steve that pose the greatest danger:i.e. I will do whatever I want and I will use ANY excuse to justify my choices.
People who DEMAND macro solutions from govt when they refuse to be a part of the micro solution can leave this planet now, as far as I am concerned.

Steve, Proving you are the bigger jerk is an odd way to succeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Justin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm

"Serving water in a restaurant, except upon request."

That is ridiculous. Plain water is just about the least water-intensive thing you can get at a restaurant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Justin, FYI it takes around seven times as much water to clean the glass as is served in it. That's the issue.

Do your part for conservation: Drink wine instead. :-)

What amazes me is that any restaurant WAS serving water without request, even before this new rule. The Bay Area had two severe droughts within memory of many residents (the big one, 1976-77, and again in a later decade), which changed habits enough that serving water only on request became standard -- as in other places where water supply is an issue. "There is never enough to waste" has been a California water motto for many years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KD
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Absurd.

Agriculture in California uses 80% of the state's water, yet only accounts for 2% of the states's GDP.

Time for the farmers to change their practices - significantly


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