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Keeping an eye on drought, Palo Alto approves water management plan

Original post made on Jun 8, 2021

As Palo Alto approved on Monday a plan for water management, some residents and City Council members suggested that the proposed drought measures might be too stringent and unrealistic.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 12:47 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by James Felix Cook
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2021 at 8:47 am

James Felix Cook is a registered user.

Thanks to our Palo Alto City Council for their action on this critically important issue!


Posted by Peter Drekmeier
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 8:50 am

Peter Drekmeier is a registered user.

The bottom line is that rationing numbers could be almost anything, depending on policy decisions. At current demand, the SFPUC and its customers could make it through a repeat of the worst drought on record (1987-92) with the Bay Delta Plan in place without requiring any rationing or developing any new water supplies, such as recycled water. With reasonable rationing (no more than 20%), we could make it through seven years of the Design Drought. By bringing a modest amount of alternative water supplies online, we could make it through a 7.5-year Design Drought.


Posted by Dave Warner
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:02 am

Dave Warner is a registered user.

It's good to see the city council and Palo Alto continuing to take a leadership roll in driving solutions that both provide our needed water supply and meet the needs of the Yosemite (Hetch Hetchy) ecosystem in ways consistent with leading experts views. And of course this couldn't have been done without our community's wonderful efforts to respect, appreciate and conserve our precious water.


Posted by theAlex
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:10 am

theAlex is a registered user.

This is a manufactured crisis. We have avoided taxing corporations and the rich enough to support the proper water infrastructure.

The solution is to tax the rich and corporations and improve the water infrastructure and technology, NOT conservation.

Mr. Zuck over there could easily fix the problem. Why don't we sit him down and have a nice talk with him and other rich who don't pay enough taxes.

I can't believe we are fussing over such an important part of life: WATER! Screw the conservation BS and fix the problem!!!!!

What's next, going on a diet to conserve food? What kind of logic is that?

I will NOT conserve water. In fact, I'll be using more water.


Posted by MBH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:22 am

MBH is a registered user.


Two things concern me after reading Gennady's article.

The first is the somewhat optimistic attitude about growth and water usage in a drought. Especially since the drought that we are experiencing now will continue until atmospheric CO2 and Global Warming are brought under control. It’s not going to get better any time soon at the rate we’re going.

The second is the assumption that we can begin pumping groundwater again. On consequence of groundwater extraction is that the land sinks. It seems to me, in light of the global increase in sea level, that lowering Palo Alto’s or the Bay Area's ground level might be something we don’t want to do.


Posted by Patti Regehr
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:31 am

Patti Regehr is a registered user.

Thank you to the City Council and to the staff for taking positive steps towards taking care of the water needs of our community and at the same time taking steps towards taking care of the needs of our earth.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2021 at 9:39 am

felix is a registered user.

Palo Alto continues to make rationale decisions about water use, remaining realistic about this issue that can be politically fraught.
Thanks to the 5 on Council that by doing so reinforce City policy - the Bay Delta Plan.

That Councilmember Cormack, our so-called Representative to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, voted otherwise was utterly predictable and in denial of the science. She only Represents herself.


Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 8, 2021 at 10:34 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

When the City says "groundwater", I always wonder which aquifer they tap into. Basements dewater the 8 ft and sometimes at the 15 ft aquifer, neither of which are potable. Are the City wells at 200 ft? Pumping at that level will not cause much subsidence.
I would also ask the City to cut down the basement dewatering to control subsidence until we get enough rain to replenish the upper aquifers.


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2021 at 10:54 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

Lets start by reusing 100% of the basement dewatering during construction including the Public Safety Building. That water could be going to water our parks instead of using tap water.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

How about declaring a moratorium on office construction until this historic drought's over?

How about Planning Director Mr. Lait and the City Attorney incorporate figures on the drought into the appeal against the absurd ABAG housing targets since more people will obviously require existing residents and business to cut water usage even more drastically?

A reminder that whenever the city's pushed for water conservation and the drought ends,. they've historically delayed removing the drought surcharge for MONTHS after the state declared the crisis was over AND they justified the next rate hike because we conserved too much! Let's avoid a repeat if this and not give CPAU yet more excuses to rip us off. (By the way, where are our settlements from the class action suits from CPAU's overcharges. Tick tock.)


Posted by W. Reller
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 3:49 pm

W. Reller is a registered user.

SFPUC's projections have been off by an average of 22% over the last 20 years. The SFPUC must produce an appendix for inclusion in the Urban Water Management Plan analyzing a shorter, 7.5-year Design Drought.
This would allow water providers to reference the appendix should the SFPUC remove a year from the Design Drought, in the future.
The SFPUC and its customers could repeat of the worst drought on record, with the Bay Delta Plan in place without requiring any rationing or developing any new water supplies, such as recycled water.
With less than 20% rationing, we could make it through seven years of the Design Drought. By bringing a modest amount of alternative water supplies online, we could make it through a 7.5-year Design Drought.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2021 at 7:04 am

Bystander is a registered user.

We have the very odd situation where most of us have been at home much more for the past 15 months than we have been elsewhere. This means at the very least more flushes at home. As a consequence, the number of flushes in each of our schools, our office buildings, our restaurants, etc. are way down. Of course, each individual person has been doing the same number of flushes but it is the venue of these flushes that has changed.

So if households have used more water it is because we are at home. I am will to follow this that schools, offices and businesses have used less water.

If people go back to school, to work in offices, to eat in restaurants, to attend churches and gyms, the amount of household water used will go down and the amount used by work places and public places will go up.


Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2021 at 3:58 pm

rita vrhel is a registered user.

I am so please the City Council majority voted to support this water conservation plan and for Mr. Drekmeier for keeping us informed of critical water issues.

Also to those of who who realize dewatering or extracting groundwater for residential basements during a serious drought is counterproductive.

In the past hundreds of millions of gallons of water have been "pumped and dumped" at NO COST to the developer. Save Palo Alto's Groundwater has been raising this issue for years. This year we have, yet again, presented ideas to Public Works to significantly limit groundwater extraction and waste yet still allow for underground construction. It can be done!

Please join us in asking Public Works to present our recommendations to the City Council and for the City Council to implement. The few do not have the right to waste what belongs to us all: community groundwater. Thank you.


Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2021 at 6:43 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

I don’t live in the area anymore, but maybe some enterprising person could rent 5-20 water trucks and build a business to irrigate large PA yards with reclaimed water? There’s certainly a market for it.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2021 at 9:54 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Chris Zaharias, at least 2 companies whose names I forget are advertising those services. Great minds, etc.


Posted by bcarlitz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 11:14 am

bcarlitz is a registered user.

Purple Pipes is a Palo Alto company I've employed for the last
few years to supply groundwater and/or reclaimed water for my garden.


Posted by Stepheny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2021 at 10:33 am

Stepheny is a registered user.

Water shortage and continuing drought. Yet another reason to curtail new residential building in Palo Alto and the Peninsula.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 11, 2021 at 11:32 am

Online Name is a registered user.

And also to curtail building more offices that will cause ABAG to try to increase PA's housing targets even more while ignoring the historical drought, fire risks, the changes in work patterns and that space is now highly preferable to density.

Lots of articles on the national trends and how desirable rural communities have seen their prices soar as people escape density and congestion.

Re what's desirable, for the first time in recent memory, yesterday I saw an ad for a PA condo near Molly Stone's for under $1 million.


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