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Smith responds to water penalty for previous vacant house

Uploaded: Sep 4, 2014

A comment in response to an earlier post about water rationing in Pleasanton called into question the city's decision to charge penalties on a house that had been foreclosed the year before and had been vacant.
The ordinance allows inclusion of water use history from 1-4 years. Daniel Smith, Pleasanton's operations director who oversees the water utility, wrote he is spending the majority of his time dealing with questions and appeals. He wrote in an email that the city will send out technicians, if necessary, to ensure it is being "fair in our process."
Explaining the process, he wrote, "The other factor that we use is outside irrigation which is the demand we are trying to control during the hot months and we will have someone jump up to a 100 units which is 1246 gallons a day and they say you cannot count that because I was not here last year, that is not realistic because we will run out of water. The drought situation in California is the worst it has ever been and it is particularly bad here in the tri-valley. A small majority are focusing on penalties and we are focusing on not running out of water which is a real threat. To date 93% of Pleasanton residents have met the 25% reduction numbers that is fantastic effort!"
The penalties are substantial and, unlike the tiered rates that PG&E uses, apply back to the first unit of water used. A first-time offender will pay an additional $4 per unit plus a $50 penalty. That climbs to $8 and $100 fine for a second violation and goes to $12 and a $250 fine on the third time. Given two-month billing cycles, it's unlikely that many users will reach the third level and they will pay dearly if they do.
Smith concluded, "the penalty is a strong tool to encourage them to conserve and protect our community."
He invites calls with questions or comments at (925) 931-5509 or with the caveat that they are quite busy so it may take a day or two before a call or email receives a response,
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

I use almost no outside water because I not only have a drought tolerant front lawn it is watered from my rain barrels. The only EBMUD water I use outside is on a couple of trees once a week.

I've been using stored rainwater since 2009, so if I lived in Pleasanton, my 4 year water consumption would be very low. I shouldn't be penalized for thinking ahead.

Rather than setting a % to reduce water usage, Pleasanton and/or Zone 7 should set a maximum amount allowed. That way water savers won't be "punished," and it would save Mr. Smith's time from all of the water savers contacting him for exceptions.


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Roz efforts are to be admired. I envy Roz efforts and the hard work.

I accept and take the City's conservation declaration seriously.
In 2013 when I was asked to voluntarily reduce 25%. I did so,
exceeded the 25% request.

In 2014 I was asked to reduce a mandatory 25%. I did so,
I exceeded that request.

My lawns are dead, my 14 fruit trees are producing fruit that is really scrawny. My garden is a ghost of what it was previous years.

Posted by Daveg, a resident of Birdland,
on Sep 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Daveg is a registered user.

I'm interested on hearing about the "next steps" to be taken by the city as this drought continues into next year. When does the current 25% reduction end? Does this continue indefinitely or have other plans been formulated. I have heard that the city has already decided that if this rainy season is either average or below, that there will be a ban on all outside watering. Is this correct?

Posted by J Yee, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Sep 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I'm glad that the city doesn't have a golf course, and have to truck over thousands of gallons of water to keep the greens green.

That would just make them hypocrites, while my lawn dies out.

Posted by Vishyp, a resident of another community,
on Sep 22, 2014 at 8:37 am

I totally agree with Roz. If we set a maximum usage limit per household, then they can decide how water to use and how to spend that water. The 25% reduction is unfair in my humble opinion. The reason being, if a resident used quite a bit last year or had a pool etc., it becomes easy for them to get the 25% reduction, while someone who had already using water sparingly and wisely, finds it very difficult to get an additional 25% on top. How is that fair?

Also, for residents who did not have prior usage history, I am not sure how the city is determining how much water is reasonable - it is based on property size, number of people in the household, average of a similar property... When I asked this question, I never got a response from the City

Posted by MarkSindone, a resident of Del Amigo Continuation High School,
on May 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm

MarkSindone is a registered user.

I think that the penalty is really pushing things a little bit far don't you think! I'm sure that people are trying their best to conserve water. But if you're going to make people pay a fine for it, how much more can they squeeze their circumstances if they are already at bordering the minimum amount of consumption for their families to get by? Surely there are other penalties like a tiered unit charge instead of a flat out fine that might be a better solution Web Link to the problem?

Posted by MarkSindone, a resident of Las Positas Garden Homes,
on May 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm

MarkSindone is a registered user.

I think that you're being entirely right in your article here considering that there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration in each and every household's different circumstances. I personally feel that those people who don't use a lot of water or are smart enough to know how to conserve water or reuse water my treating or holding rain in storage Web Link should be rewarded instead of penalizing! The utilities guys had better do something to streamline their definitions soon since it has come to a point that everyone is questioning their process!

Posted by WatsonZion, a resident of another community,
on Dec 16, 2016 at 12:51 am

I have heard that the city has officially chosen that if this stormy season is either normal or underneath, that there will be a prohibition on all outside watering. Additionally, for inhabitants who did not have earlier utilization history, I am not certain how the city is deciding how much water is sensible it depends on property measure, number of individuals in the family unit, normal of a comparable property.

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