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Water outlook more positive for San Ramon

Service providers haven't declared drought, but urge conservation

With drought concerns at the forefront statewide after the governor's emergency proclamation last week, current water availability doesn't appear as dire locally as in other parts of California, according to San Ramon water-service providers.

"Our supply is in fair condition," said Abby Figueroa, public information representative for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. "Despite 2013 being the driest year on record, we started this winter with good storage levels in our reservoirs thanks to heavy rains at the end of 2012."

EBMUD -- which provides water to about 1.3 million residents in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including parts of San Ramon -- has not declared a drought for its service area, but agency officials continue to monitor the fluctuating situation, Figueroa said.

A wait-and-see attitude is also being applied within the Dublin San Ramon Services District, the water-service provider for the Dougherty Valley.

"We're concerned about the forecast. We're looking at it hard. We're probably not going to do anything mandatory, at least not initially," said DSRSD general manager Bert Michalczyk. "We'll make the decision once we have a clearer picture at the end of the traditional wet season."

The outlook remains somewhat positive at this point for the DSRSD, according to Michalczyk.

"We're not at a critical situation like many other water districts are around the state. We have a lot of water in storage, both locally and remotely," he added. "But that's not to say that we shouldn't be trying to save every drop of water we can; you don't know how long this (weather) is gonna go on."

Conservation, which water officials preach year-round regardless of weather, is even more of a focus during dry spells.

"A drop of water saved in the wintertime helps keep that water in storage in the summertime," Michalczyk said.

Gov. Jerry Brown last Friday urged all Californians to reduce their water usage by as much as 20 percent, and San Ramon residents should consider taking part, according to water agency reps.

Among its top conservation tips, EBMUD suggests ratepayers find and repair water leaks at their home, reduce irrigation and consider a switch to more sustainable outdoor landscaping, Figueroa said.

That district has seen an uptick in water demand so far this winter, likely due to recent unseasonably warm and dry weather, she added.

"Of course, there's been barely any rainfall in the past three months, so as winter has progressed our reservoir levels are being drawn down," Figueroa said. "However, winter is only half over and a couple good storms this spring could bring our reservoir levels back to average."

Michalczyk shared similar sentiments, saying the wet season could "turn around on a dime."

"I continue to watch the winter skies," he added. "And I keep Googling looking for a good rain dance out there, but I haven't found one yet."

A series of local public meetings are set to address water-supply issues.

The EBMUD Board of Directors is scheduled to receive regular updates on the local water supply at board meetings, which take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month in Oakland. Agency staff is expected to present its final water-supply forecast of the year on April 22.

The DSRSD Board of Directors will consider a response to Brown's proclamation at its Feb. 4 meeting, 6 p.m. at 7051 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin.

The Board of Directors of the Zone 7 Water Agency -- which sells water to the DSRSD -- is holding a special meeting to discuss drought implications on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at 100 N. Canyons Pkwy. in Livermore. The directors are set to talk about current water conditions and strategies for handling severely limited water imports.

The following night, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird is scheduled to present at a public workshop in Dublin on the draft California Water Action Plan -- a 20-page document developed by three state agencies to guide short-term state actions related to California's water resources.

The event is set to begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 inside Dublin City Council Chambers, 100 Civic Plaza.


Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

Well this is good news. I have completely revamped my home to decrease my utility "footprint" and one of the major changes is ripping out front/rear yards of grass; planting only drought-tolerant BUT, mostly native plants. Using above ground drip irrigation. It's paying "dividends" already by being ahead of the "game" in a world of fragile if not dwindling natural resources. What I wish would override those (developers) owning available land? Is the far better management and downsizing of tract home building projects (-which due to geographic buildout here? Has decreased already) As we still have some rather large projects to address in these areas (i.e., the proposed Faria property) that can only deplete what we have further. Though "hands are tied" in regard to the rights of property developers being able to develop their land? BETTER constraints should be observed, including? The downsizing of projects to what we can, in today's world? Afford in regard to the added use of both power and water.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Jan 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Ms. Bunny,

I know you live in my neighborhood. Come over to my house and check out my 7000 gallons of rainwater storage. Rainwater capture and storage (underground or under the house) should be in the state's water action plan. I have been invited to attend the meeting on January 30th in Dublin and will bring this up if it isn't already covered in the plan's draft (which I haven't read yet).

It would be so easy to recycle gray water (from bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers) to flush toilets, and store 20,000 gallons of rainwater, if these features are built into new homes. It's easier to build features into a new development than add them house by house later.


Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

Thanks for the offer Roz, but I'm meeting with LifeSource to see what's feasible this week. Having a construction background? I pretty much know what I can and cannot do cost effectively at this point. Three cheers for you for "getting" how vital this is in the future of California - PERIOD!

Posted by OnWatch, a resident of Dublin
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

Get involved on your local Boards. Water is important to the Valley and Zone 7 water has a few Board positions open for election this year. Get the word out!

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Feb 1, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Good point about Zone 7. They hold their elections in June. Most residents of San Ramon don't even know when Zone 7 elections are, and of course cannot vote in them unless Zone 7 is able to separate itself from the Alameda County Water District. This is even more important than ever with the drought conditions we are under now.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Feb 1, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

These four Zone 7 Directors terms will be up for reelection on June 3, 2014. I don't know which of them plan to run again or who else might run against them.

Bill Stevens, President
Phone: 925/454-5754
Board Member Since: 1998
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2014
Zone 7 Committee Assignments: Liaison Committee, Water Resources Committee
Background: A Livermore resident and a geotechnical and civil engineer.

John Greci, Vice President
Phone: 925/454-5756
Board Member Since: 1994
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2014
Zone 7 Committee Assignments: Administrative Committee, Water Resources Committee
Background: A Livermore resident and retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

A J Machaevich
Phone: 925/454-5753
Board Member Since: 2010
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2014
Zone 7 Committee Assignments: Water Resources Committee
Background: A Livermore resident and an Information Technology consultant.
Sarah Palmer
Phone: 925/454-5752
Board Member Since: 2006
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2014
Zone 7 Committee Assignments: Administrative Committee, Finance Committee, Liaison Committee
Background: A Livermore resident, Ph.D biochemist, teaching Advanced Placement Environmental Science at Foothill and Dublin High Schools with the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Programs.

Posted by tiki3, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 1, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Roz, I really admire your forward thinking in water conservation. I am always open to new ways to conserve, and I commend you for having so much stored rainwater. I'm ashamed to say that is still on my list of things I know I need to do. See what procrastination gets.

Posted by Dave, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

Don't be confused about DSRSD (they buy water from Zone 7), they only supply water to 'new' San Ramon, that is Windemere and parts of Gale Ranch. 'Old' San Ramon water is provided to you by EBMUD who has a completely different water source than Zone 7.

Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 3, 2014 at 8:48 am

That's what I thought Dave, thanks for setting the record straight. I stay "on top" of EBMUD because that is our water supplier here and I believe the majority of our water is from the Molekeme (sp) river. I wrote to them last June before the major board meeting in Oakland to raise our rates (again...every year since 1995 I believe...) I guess it didn't work, not ENOUGH opposition showed OR wrote letters (sigh) I wish people would still believe in the "power of the pen". It really works and is a testimony of all that I HAVE been able to alter/change in my life, particularly since retirement. I just took on COMCAST and their rate increase and got a call from their corporate office Fri. that they would reduce my rate substantially under the circumstances of my complaint. It really does pay to register one's concerns IN WRITING.

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