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Danville resident tops latest EBMUD water-waster list

Original post made on Feb 26, 2016

Gurus of fitness and computer science were among the more than 400 customers fined for wasting water in a list released by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 25, 2016, 9:40 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by C
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:41 am

Why does the Patch post this? What a huge invasion of privacy.

Posted by Geo Pardee
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 7:25 am

C: Setting aside the technicality that this publication is not the Patch, is it because available water is an essential, finite public resource -- one person's gluttony leaves less for everyone else to use, making it a matter of fundamental public interest?

That was easy. Do I win?

Posted by Chris
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 7:52 am

There's a place to say that a comment is objectionable, but I'd like to comment that the article and the practice of reporting this is objectionable. The usage is reported, but there is no context, such as the number of people at the home, or any other circumstance that may account for the consumption. This makes the report misleading and biased. Nor is there an inquiry or opportunity for rebuttal from the people on the list. Even Fox pretends to be balanced and fair. This is neither.

Posted by Concerned voter
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

To add to the context point, the stated conservation goal is at least a 25% reduction in use over the 2013 usage. To be fair to anyone, their usage should be reported (of at all) only in those terms. My personal usage rate has declined 50% over 2013, yet I receive periodic EBMUD notices that we are a over average consumer of water. The reduction is the real measure of conservation.

Posted by Lilly
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

Let's put this amount into perspective since most people do not realize how much water they actually use/waste because conservation has not been an issue. We own 5 acres of land, are a family of six, and raise chickens and sheep. Our landscape around our residence consists of drought tolerant plants. We also plant our own vegetables and have a dozen fruit trees. Living in the country allows one to appreciate our resources. Because we have a well, We have to closely monitor our water usage due to a low water table in our area as a result of the drought. In fact, we have run out of water on many occasions. As such, we collect rain in the winter to carry us through the summer. On average we use 1200-1500 gallons every two weeks. How do we do this? To name a few, We have water efficient appliances, take military style showers, and use 5,000 gallons of rain water to supplement our usage in the summer. We do not waste this valuable resource. There are many things one can do to recycle water. I cannot imagine using over 5,000 gallons of water on a daily basis. For the month of February this amounts to 145,000 gallons. Yes folks, we should be concerned.

Posted by Geo Pardee
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 9:32 am

So, demi-gluttons get a gold star?

I will acknowledge that improvement is AN important measure, but if Willie Sutton robbed only half as many banks as he once did, would we pin a medal on his sorry chest? Our water supply is a lot like a bank.

Let's start from the other end, shall we? According to the USGS Web Link the "average person" uses 80-100 gallons/day. And that's before putting bricks in the crapper. So, taking the midpoint, are we to assume that 64 people live at Sally Nosal's house? (5,779 gal/day divided by 90).

Let's give her much benefit of the doubt and say that 5 people live there. That would mean that each of them is using 1,158 gals/day, or almost 13 times the average! Is she a heroine if she cuts it to a mere six times the average? I think not.

But what of my lush landscaping, of my vineyards you say? I'd say those were bad investments, or at least they have become a great deal more expensive. Sorry.

I think it's hilarious that the rich and gluttonous are sooo sensitive about having their splendid lifestyles cast in such a negative, although accurate light. Perhaps you could organize and change the law to shield your tender sensibilities from such harsh, although accurate opprobrium?

Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

I also have some issues with how EBMUD reports the heavy water users. One thing that I find interesting is that EBMUD has repeatedly claimed that they are only reporting these list because "they have to", in order to comply (allegedly) with one or more public disclosure laws. And yet, no other water agency in the area seems to feel the same "obligation". Are any other water districts putting out similar lists? Certainly it is the case that the only "water waster" lists that I've seen mentioned on Bay Area-wide TV news reports have been from EBMUD. As a result, I am of the belief that their whole "we're only doing this because we have to" stance is BS.

As a side comment, I noticed that KTVU-Ch. 2 now talks less about these ongoing lists, after one of their night-time anchor's house appeared on the list.

One other side comment is that the "average daily usage" figures that get trotted out include apartment-dwellers, and others with zero or minimal need for irrigation. Obviously people with lawns should be also trying to minimize their usage. But at the same time it is unrealistic to compare them with apartment-dwellers, in terms of daily averages.

It is also worth pointing out that the people who use a lot of water ARE paying a lot for it, since water rates are "progressive" (i.e. higher rates for higher levels of use), and they are also paying surcharges and/or fines on top of that. To some extent, we should be glad that these higher rates and fines are going in to EBMUD - otherwise they'd be raising their rates even higher (for all of us)!

It might be useful if EBMUD also reported on what they are doing to increase their storage capacity, to take advantage of relatively wet winters, when we have them. Have there been any improvements in storage capacity? There HAVE been some projects to create "grey water" lines for irrigation (for business parks, municipal usage, etc., which is good. But I haven't heard of storage capacity improvements.

Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I don't think EBMUD is being a good neighbor by practicing public humiliation.

You can cross a lot more bridges with honey that you can with a lump of coal!

Posted by Emmie Taphorre
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I don't know, Duff -- maybe we shouldn't cross that bridge 'til the cows are counted, the chickens come home, the horse won't hunt, the dog is back in the barn and allll that wasted water has gone under the dam.

Posted by Ms. Bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm

@C. R. Mudgeon: You think that the rich paying for their water is enough so we shouldn't be concerned with how much they use?

As someone else has pointed out, water is a finite resource. When there is no more water, it won't matter how much the rich pay. There will be nothing to pay for. No water for all of us, not just no water for the rich.

We all need to be concerned and we all need to conserve

Posted by Geo Pardee
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm

As of one month ago, existing storage was about half-full. Web Link (also ktvu)

Mudge -- would your prefer to spend the capital dollars to build twice as many reservoirs, so that all of them can be 1/4 full? As has been pointed out often on this board, storage is not the problem, and anyway, all the good places already have dams on them. I can just hear the howl that would go up about wasteful government spending if such a campaign was undertaken (on top of the $multi-billion water bond we're all financing now). This time, you'd be right.

BTW, did you really claim that irrigation is a suburban "need?" How's the view from the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy?

Posted by Anne
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

A little bit about the "formula" EBMUD uses to calculate everyone's water needs: it is based on ONE thing and ONE thing only: how many people reside in the house.No consideration is given to land/house size/pets or other animals living on the property/age of the residents ( retirees who are home use more water on a daily basis than those who work).When we asked WHY that was the only criteria and WHY there was no formula,the response was "we're working on it".That was last summer.
As for rainfall being the ONLY water source,try telling that to Israel,a country that is basically desert.The produce so much water on an annual basis that they sell what they don't need: nearly 20% of their production.10 years ago,they were in a similar position as we are and decided to do something about it.Using technology DEVELOPED in CALIFORNIA,they've been VERY successful.So successful that they don't even count on rain anymore!!!
According to the investigative report done by NBC news,this technology isn't selling here.Why? Because,there hasn't been the POLITICAL WILL in Sacramento.
I guess they must be too busy spending our taxpayer dollars on High Speed Rail!! With SIX departments in Sacramento involved in water policy and over 400 water districts,the REAL answer is POLITICS......

Posted by nattering nabob
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Geo Pardee - opprobrium?
Really? If you actually used that in public, speaking, I would laugh in your face. Lay off the medication and the synonym finder, it really looks like you're trying to act smart; but we all know better (because if you were smart you wouldn't be posting to a BB @ 2:30PM on a Friday afternoon - HARDEEHARHAR!)

Posted by Geo Pardee
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Oh Kay nat, I will try to dumb it down for you, and use just words of one syll -- err, little sound, each. I will post when it suits me, and I will show you my Mensa (oops! darn -- it means 'smart guy') card, if you show me yours.

Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm

In our household of two we've averaged consumption of less than 100 gallons a day all winter long. And we make no special effort to do it. We flush - every time (sometimes twice.) We probably take longer showers (every day) than we need to. We wash our clothes at home; we cook and eat at home most days and wash the dishes. All that - 100 gallons a day or less, for two people. That's all you need for a comfortable suburban lifestyle, with absolutely no sacrifice involved.

Everything beyond that is poured on the ground. So when folks get their dander up about "shaming" people who use thousands of gallons a day, please pay attention to what you're asking: you want the government to invest billions into dams (of dubious utility) and desalinization (which requires massive energy use, with all of the collateral consequences accompanying that) so that wealthy folks can pour water on the ground to recreate an English garden look in a place where historically all that grew was bunch grass and widely separated oak trees.

In the meantime, restaurants are not supposed to serve water unless you ask for it, farmers are fallowing fields, and fish are threatened with dieoffs caused by insufficient water flow. You'd think that water gluttons wouldn't need "shaming" and their apologists would fail to be outraged when the truth about what they have chosen to do with a common resource was disclosed to the very people affected by their selfish conduct - you and me.

But you'd be wrong.

Posted by belunker
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 27, 2016 at 8:17 am

Geo - you actually have a card so that you can show people you're a smart guy (your words)? Seriously? (Oh, and please don't attack me, it's just a question)

Posted by Geo Pardee
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 27, 2016 at 10:22 am

Belunk: No, I don't.

I do have a membership card for the Mensa organization Web Link but that's not what it's for, obviously. It is, however, available in response to inanity like nat's, above. Mensa does have gear you can get if you want to show-off, but that's just silly. My personal view is that we generally put a lot more significance on "intelligence" than it deserves, but the club is an interesting bunch of folks organized around those who are good at taking IQ tests.

There's actually a pretty active Bay Area regional chapter. I'm guessing that nat is not a member.

Posted by Susanne
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

Keep in mind that the calculations for this public shaming came from a company that had to issue apology letters last month due to miscalculations their own staff made.

Posted by H. Twoh
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2016 at 10:55 am

Susanne: Do you recall the accuracy rate of the EBMUD list about which they apologized? Was it off by 10% or 25% or 50%?

(The calcs were off by ... 2% ... and every one of the households miss-counted Still belonged in the exclusive club of 5700+ water wasters Web Link .

Last time I checked, 98% accuracy grades-out as an A, verging on A+. Was there a particular 'victim' you think should not have been identified on it? Web Link

Posted by Susanne
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2016 at 11:34 am

Hello H. Twoh, no, I didn't research the miscalculations that were reported by KGO this month, I have a busy life and didn't consider it a good use of my time. I appreciate that you find the degree of erroneous reporting meaningful, however.

Let's see...the other question was is there a "victim" that I thought should have been left off the list. I don't find the "list" to be good practice anyway. I highly doubt those that are considered "over users" are moved by the data in any way, so this may be just a vehicle for the rest of us to project our opinions without them having a meaningful impact.

Just my opinion, though, and it sounds like you feel differently. That's cool.

Posted by H. Twoh
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Susanne, given how very busy your life is, I'm surprised that you found it worth your time and effort to project essentially misleading information, but not worth it to inform yourself in advance. Is that what passes for good practice among bustlers?

Just my opinion, though, and it sounds like you feel differently. That's cool.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Feb 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Just came back from Palm Springs and they are using water like its another state. Green lawns plenty from Col River and underground pools. Plenty used and very low rates. What a joke EBMud is. Just trying to gouge users. Drought my ass.

Posted by Diana
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Feb 29, 2016 at 8:54 am

I'm also not sure just what publicizing this info accomplishes. If it doesn't result in a reduction of usage for the chronic over users, who are already being fined (not that it would matter to someone who has money to burn, which is likely the case with these people who have the big lots, huge houses, etc.).

I do think that EBMUD should make sure their info is accurate (not sure how Suzanne's post was misleading, H Twoh, since she said they miscalculated and sent letters to apologize which is accurate), and they should also decide if they are going to take lot size in to account, as they said they would do sometime last year.

Is there any data on whether there is any change in water usage based on this practice?

Posted by H. Twoh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 1, 2016 at 8:51 am

I will tell you how it was misleading, Diana. It was posted to convey the impression that the list was suspect for inaccuracies. It was not. Even the 2% to whom technical apologies were sent Still belonged on the list, together with the other 98% whose selfish habits were flawlessly presented by the agency.

It seems to me that the commenters who challenge this list are looking for an excuse to believe it's okay to squander a public resource, or a reason not to care because somebody else might be getting away with something in the desert. It's an invasion of privacy, or some folks have big lawns, or you don't like government, or the list is flawed.

If you spent the effort invested to deflect this attack on your treasured freedom to beggar your neighbors on actually conserving water, we'd all be better-off.

Posted by Diana
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Mar 1, 2016 at 10:10 am

Ah, I see your point. I didn't see it the same way. My thought was that if EBMUD had miscalculated (even a small proportion/percentage) in the way that was identified, their data may be flawed in other areas as well.

Posted by H. Twoh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 1, 2016 at 11:36 am

What's this, Diana -- a cordial response on the Town Square?

Marry me? ;-) , but thanks for the reply. Take note everybody (me, too).

Posted by Diana
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Mar 1, 2016 at 3:39 pm

H. Twoh, what a nice response. If you want an old retired granny, I'm yours ;o).

I think we can all differ in our opinions and still gain from other's perspectives. Goodness knows I can be way off base at times!

Posted by David Nosal
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2016 at 5:39 am

Very interesting to see our name at the top of this list (for the first and only time - hint - think pattern) . Had the author done any homework prior to adding us to this list, with just one call to Sally or myself, they would have found that during the holidays when no one was home for 2 plus weeks, our outdoor pipes broke. This was only discovered once back and immediately fixed. One quick call to us to get a copy of receipt for fix was all a responsible and good journalist had to do. One call! Enough said. So much for a quality journalist. I think it is time we create a list of irresponsible journalists monthly and start with the individual who wrote this without any due diligence. Let's then see how that person's career evolves. Do your homework!!

Posted by H. Twoh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:31 am

Just curious -- what will you do next time, David? Have you installed a valve upstream of the whole house? Sounds like an old plumbing problem that might recur.

Posted by resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:43 am

Some time ago a spokewoman for the water district was on a news show where she said they have a procedure for people who have leaks and other issues that cause unusual water usage. One can fill out and submit a form. If it can be proven, maybe the homeowner gets a rebate for the fine and, I think she said that will also keep their names off the bad list.

Worth checking out if it applies to you.

I notice that many people on that list have said that their overages were due to undetected leaks. Sounds like quite a problem. So much so, that maybe there needs to be procedures in place to detect these leaks when they begin, not after so much water has been wasted. Better to install these safeguards now rather than have the need for new laws to come out mandating them, imo.

Posted by Plain Truth
a resident of Danville
on Mar 7, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Come on now people, you can drum up far more excuses for the water hogs than just thinking it's a shame that the names of these self-important property owners are put out for the reality they have created for themselves. Here's the bottom line, don't want your name in the public realm for using ridiculous amounts of water during a drought... shut the faucet. I don't care if you own a postage stamp size lot or 5 acres, water is scarce and because it's scarce your landscaping is not a priority. It's just the plain truth. Deal with it. By the way, my family of 3 used 154 gallons a day last cycle and my landscape is barely surviving. I am living the reality.

Posted by Alice Kidder
a resident of Danville
on Mar 7, 2016 at 7:29 pm

I only problem I see with public shaming is that some people don't have any shame, don't know the meaning of it, or just don't care. It's sad that these people weren't brought up to respect their neighbors, the earth or even themselves.

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