Palo Altans could face water bill supplements and rationing in case of drought
This story originally appeared in the Daily Post on Wednesday. To get all the local news first, make it a habit to pick up The Post in the morning at 1,000 Mid-Peninsula locations.
BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily postal correspondent
Palo Altans could face water bill surcharges or water rationing in response to drought conditions, under a plan the city council will consider on Monday, June 7.
According to the proposal, the city could choose to limit watering of lawns or landscaping to three days a week from April to October in case of drought, reducing it to two days a week if conditions worsen.
In the event of an extreme water emergency, the city could completely ban the use of water outdoors, except when necessary for health or safety.
In the early stages of a drought, the city could require restaurants to serve water to customers only if they request it. Hotels may be asked to give guests the option to skip the daily washing of towels and linens.
The US Drought Monitor, a project of federal agencies and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, classified Santa Clara and San Mateo counties as “extreme drought” last month.
But the proposed plan presented to council on Monday is not in response to the current drought conditions. On the contrary, the state requires that urban water agencies review their urban water management plan every five years.
Still, the plan can give residents an idea of what to expect in the event of a drought.
The plan presents strategies for different levels of water scarcity. In step 1, the city sets itself the goal of reducing water consumption by up to 10%; Step 2 is a 10-20% reduction; Step 3 is a 20-30% reduction; etc.
The city’s water tariffs are already structured to encourage conservation, according to the report. But from step 2, a drought rate structure could be implemented, in which drought supplements can be added to water bills.
And from step 5, when the city sets a target of reducing water consumption by 40-50%, water rationing can be implemented.
“With each progressive step, enforcement, pricing strategies and water use restrictions will be increased,” City Manager Ed Shikada said in a report to council. The report indicated that action would be taken to protect the trees.
The city has experience of reducing water consumption in times of drought. During the drought of 1977-78, for example, city-wide water use fell 16% in fiscal 1977 and 37% in fiscal 1978, from levels from 1976.
In 2015, the state asked cities to reduce their water consumption due to the drought. Palo Alto exceeded the 25% reduction target from June 2015 to May 2016, reducing water consumption by 31% compared to 2013. Water savings were achieved by limiting landscape irrigation to two times a week as well as other metrics, according to the city report.
Water consumption per person falls
Even though per capita water consumption has declined in Palo Alto, the city expects water consumption to increase over the next two decades due to the increase in the number of businesses and residents.
The city obtains all of its drinking water from the San Francisco Utilities Commission. In addition, recycled water from the city’s regional water quality control plant is used for certain purposes, such as irrigation of the municipal golf course.
SFPUC’s drinking water supply is generally sufficient to meet demand. But that could change once the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay Delta plan is implemented, according to the city’s proposed urban water management plan.
Under the Bay Delta Plan, natural water from the Central Valley would be allowed to enter the delta from February to June. The plan aims to protect the water quality in the region as well as fish and wildlife.
“If the Bay Delta plan amendment is implemented, the SFPUC will be able to meet the forecast water demands presented in this (plan) during normal years, but would experience supply shortages in dry years.” single or several dry years ”, indicates the plan proposed by the city.
The city could take a closer look at the possibility of supplementing its water supply with a groundwater well system, according to the report to council. This option will be explored further in an upcoming plan called One Water Plan.