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Water conservation during drought

Original post made by PA Utilities Customer, Adobe-Meadow, on Feb 27, 2014

I just looked at our latest junk mail from PA Utilities. Glossy sheet with bright colors comparing my family to other households in my neighborhood. Of course we did dismally.

Apart from the cost of all this, I find it all a bit of an insult. we have been doing all sorts of low water measures for several years. We already have low flush toilets, low pressure showers, low water usage washer, etc. We don't water our yard as much as we would like and always set the sprinklers for night time. We have instant hot water tanks to save running showers several minutes before the water heats up.

So I have come up with some ideas to help us all save more water.

All men and boys to pee on the lawns and landscaping. This will work double as it will save flushing and save outside watering.

All laundry taken to the local Laundromat so we use their water, not ours.

All showers to be taken at gym or swimming pool, same reason.

All poops to be done at work or school, same reason.

Forget about handwashing for hygiene as it uses too much water, use hand sanitizer instead.

All women to go to spa and beauty salon weekly to save water.

All teeth and cooking to be done with bottled water - local California spring water of course.

All meals to be served on paper plates, drinks to be consumed from disposable containers, etc. All food to be bought ready to serve so that no water needed for preparation, or cleanup.

Yes, it gets a little ridiculous, doesn't it?

Why should we be the ones to continue to reduce our usage when we see our parks waterlogged all year round from overwatering? Why should California farmers still grow rice, alfalfa and other high water usage crops, and then export them outside the state? Why should ski resorts continue to use water to make snow?

I will do my part in a sensible way as I have been. I only hope the powers that be do the same as I have not seen any action on their part.

Comments (10)

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Posted by PA Utilities customer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:40 am

Forgot to add the last idea for less consumption

Build less homes in Palo Alto, then less water customers and more for the rest of us to share around.

All my ideas for less home consumption are tongue in cheek of course (in case anyone thought otherwise).

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

My aunt and uncle in their mid-80's live so frugally, it is almost a religion. But they must drink a lot of water as should most people. They got two invasive letters from the Utility police re: their water usage. Scared them. My aunt wondered if they could be fined!! NO WAY could they have used that much water a month. I checked the meter. There is nothing leaking. Yet I saw sprinklers running at a recently sold and empty house. I see water wasted all over town. How much is this nosey Utility human getting to send out these nasty-notes - and what doe it cost to 'get the data' - faulty as it is. What makes it even more outrageous is that all this costs more Utilities money as does the endless 'junk mail' we get. In the mailbox, into the recycle box, Somebody has to straighten out the Utility Dept., the most disliked function of the city. Didn't used to be that way.

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Posted by PA Utilities Customer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Come, Come, now. I'm sure somebody can come up with some other useful tips.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2014 at 11:25 am

So, what is your WaterScore? Our PA Utility glossy says "You 51 gpd, Average Neighbors 51 gpd, Efficient Neighbors 25 gpd." The fine print says "Go online or call to change the number of occupants we estimated." Where did they come up with their occupant estimate? Clearly not US Census data or DMV number of vehicles registered to different owners at this address or by counting bedrooms. I don't want to correct Utility's estimate because that would just put more pressure on my neighbors. All the new construction is adding enough pressure.

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Posted by No more nasty letters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

We recently received, after asking the Utility Dept to cease doing this, another nasty letter about our water usage,

Their chart claims that we use way more water and electricity compared to other houses of the same size on lots of the same size with an equal number of occupants.

BALONEY! There are probably NO other 3-bdrm/2 ba 1700 SF houses on 5000 SF lots with five adults, a toddler, and an infant in any neighborhood in PA. In fact, such a small lot as ours is very rare in this town, two real estate agents have told us so. They also told us that most of the houses of a similar size in Palo Alto have no one home during the day, nor do they have so many occupants. There are always at least one adult and the two small children home during the day.

I honestly believe PA Urilities is making this baloney up. We have called them twice and informed them of the number of people in our household. We have a drought-proof yard, which they have previously commended us for. Most of our showers are taken at the gym. We do a lot of laundry, but that happens with small children. We hand-wash most of our dishes, except baby bottles which mush be dishwasher cleaned to sterilize them. They seem to be out-and-out lying to us, and they continue to send these nasty letters in spite of the fact that we have twice asked them to stop it.

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Posted by No more nasty letters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Perhaps our electric usage is being driven up by charging two electric cars! Why not give a special rate to people who charge their cars at home rather than using the free city chargers?

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Posted by Water Use Qutside
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

The glossy suggests ways to minimize outdoor water use.

But isn't outdoor water use good? The water just goes into the water table. Isn't that where we need water?

I don't understand why we should reduce outdoor water use, can someone explain this situation?

The city and utilities do not have a good enough record of sensible diligence with this sort of thing for me to just go with what they say on their glossies.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 1, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I suspect most residential outdoor water use evaporates into the air rather than penetrates to the water table. But what goes up must come down, so I guess it just blows somewhere and becomes rain.

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Posted by nobigbrother
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Comparison with my neighbors doesn't make sense because our needs can be very different. I have a neighbor who travels a lot and others who work all day and go to the gym where they can shower. Also, it depends on how many people are in your house. Of course, the Utility would like to know all that info in order to make a better comparison, but then the Utility is morphing into Big Brother!

Furthermore, what about my neighbors who have a pool? a hot tub? Do I get "credit" for not needing as much water so it is ok for me to add to my vegetable garden?

Tips on water saving methods are good for the Utility to provide: but this comparing me to my neighbors is very flawed and not a good trend to pit neighbor against neighbor. And it can only be accurate if the Utility knows all kinds of data about water needs and uses. And evaluate whether or not those uses are valid.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

This is silly for all of you. This constant focus on comparing yourselves is stupid, especially with this Keeping Up With the Joneses water conservation.

So what are the local golf courses doing? Using reclaimed water that can be better used elsewhere? Regardless, we all know that household water users are not the real culprits, and places using reclaimed water are pretty smart about it.

Like many of you, I've always been careful about water usage, even when caring for my vegetable plants. It's hard to cut back much when you're already stingy. And what about those who rent? They're not in charge of what sort of toilet or shower they have, or the type of landscaping that's in place.

I hope you all can ignore these sophomoric attempts to guilt you. Kudos to the homeowners who've already had conservation measures in place and I hope that landlords take a cue from them and make some changes. But really - we all know it's agricultural and big business water uses that are the problem.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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