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June Walnut Creek Mayor's Message

Jun 01, 2015 09:55PM ● Published by Elena Hutslar

Walnut Creek Mayor, Bob Simmons

by Bob Simmons, Walnut Creek Mayor

According to a quote generally attributed to Mark Twain, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.” Recently, the governor announced the first-ever mandatory water restrictions, recently imposed by the State Water Resources Board. Those restrictions seek reductions in water use of 25% or more. 

As a result of its Climate Action Plan (adopted in April 2012), the city has already reduced water usage in several areas through the installation of low flow toilets, low flow shower heads, flow meters, mulching around plantings, and by replacing inefficient irrigation systems. In 2012, the city adopted a Water Efficient Landscaping Ordinance. That ordinance applies mostly to new developments, but it does apply to existing single-family homes where more than 5,000 sq. ft. of landscaping is being changed.  According to the information supporting the ordinance, approximately 60% of the water used by a single-family home is used for landscape. This works out to 100,000 gallons/year just to maintain landscape that does not belong in a Mediterranean climate. Modification of the ordinance is one of the items that the city council may consider in the future. Further actions are included in the 2015 Drought Management Plan, which the city council approved on May 5, 2014.

By way of an important example, the city has about 80 acres of turf. We do want to keep watering those turf areas that are used for sports activities, but city staff has identified 17 acres that are not used for such purposes and has stopped watering those grass areas. You will see signs that say “Water Conservation Area.” On about five of those 17 acres, the city is moving forward with plans to convert the lawn areas this fall to drought tolerant vegetation. Future plans may see additional areas converted to drought tolerant vegetation. While you will still see flowers in the downtown planters, those are being watered with free, recycled water obtained from the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District. The city has also stopped watering grass that is in the median strips in roadways. Probably the largest median strip is on Tice Valley Road near the entrance to Rossmoor. In addition, the city-owned Boundary Oak Golf Course reduced its water usage from 2013 to 2014 by 20%. It will adopt further measures this year, but it will also try to preserve the fairway grass and the greens. 

So, I think the city has taken significant actions to respond to the drought. As the drought continues, I am confident that the city will continue to focus on the areas that must be watered, and reduce or eliminate the watering of ornamental landscaping in other areas. We will see things change in our city. 

While more action may be necessary, my question for you is what have you done, and what more can you do? If you want to know what you can do, please contact the water district in your area. The website for the Contra Costa Water District is www.ccwater.com and the website for the East Bay Municipal Utility District is www.ebmud.com.  

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