Palo Alto residents had a chance to pick up free shower buckets, hose nozzles and lawn signs promoting water conservation Wednesday as part of an effort by the Santa Clara Valley Water District to encourage water saving during a time of drought.
The gear, which also includes moisture meters, faucet aerators, low-flow shower heads and shower timers, was distributed at the Mitchell Park Library until 2:30 p.m., according to water district officials. Residents were also able to pick up "Brown is the New Green" and "We're Fighting the Drought Inside Out" signs at the library early Wednesday.
Though the Palo Alto event concluded at 2:30 p.m. residents who wish to pick up drought gear may still do so at the water district's headquarters, 5700 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, during normal business hours. Residents must show proof that they are Santa Clara County residents. They can also pre-order lawn signs and other items at valleywater.org/droughtgear.
The distribution of equipment is part of the county's effort to meet the 25 percent water reduction target set by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to California's severe drought, which is now in its fourth year. Palo Alto, which draws most of its water not from the district but from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is required to cut back its water use by 24 percent from 2013 levels.
So far, the city appears to be close to the target. According to the Utilities Department, the city's water consumption was 24.3 percent lower last month than it was in July 2013. In recent months, the city has added new rebates and water-efficiency programs, imposed restrictions on irrigation and banned the use of potable water in construction when non-potable water is available.
The city is also exploring increasing its use of recycled water for irrigation. The Utilities Advisory Commission will discuss tonight a proposal to use non-potable water for irrigation at the Stanford Research Park. The commission is also scheduled to receive its regular update about the drought and its impact on the city's hydroelectric supply.