Saturday, October 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Drought lessons: Water wasters attend Water School

By
From page A1 | August 10, 2014 |

SANTA CRUZ — Some overindulged their zucchini patch. Others didn’t bother with that dripping kitchen sink. But now every Monday night in this drought-stricken beach town, dozens of residents who violated their strict rations take a seat at Water School, hoping to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in distressing penalties waived.

Nik Martinelli, a Santa Cruz water-conservation specialist who is up before dawn patrolling for overwatered lawns, launched a recent lesson.

“We all know why you’re here. You all went over your allotment and got a big penalty,” he said.

Margaret Hughes nodded grimly. Her $210 water bill came with a $775 fine last month. She drove from her home four hours north of town to face the scolding, even though she had no idea the toilet in a vacant house she inherited had been leaking.

Two hours later, everyone was ready to ace their Water School quiz, identifying the community’s sparse water sources, listing ways to conserve water, describing how to use their water meters to check for leaks.

“They’re turning this into something positive,” said Hughes, adding that she might take advantage of a $150 rip-out-your-lawn rebate she learned about.

California is in the third year of the state’s worst drought in recent history. Farmland is going fallow. Lakes are turning to mud. Golf courses, cemeteries and parks are browning.

Earlier in the year when winter storms didn’t blow in and the forecast was grim, most communities took the “ask nicely,” approach, suggesting residents cut water use by 20 percent.

But Santa Cruz, a coastal town about 60 miles south of San Francisco, couldn’t afford to wait.

Unlike most cities that have either groundwater, a connection to state water canals, or vast reservoirs, Santa Cruz is among those worst hit by the drought because what makes it special — the town is surrounded by ocean and mountains — also means it relies almost exclusively on storm runoff into a river, creeks and an aging reservoir.

“We’re completely dependent on Mother Nature, so we’re vulnerable” Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard said. “There really is no carrot in the situation that we’re facing. We had to ration.”

The city cracked down in May, deploying “drought busters,” whom locals call “water cops,” to warn — and then penalize — anyone openly watering between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., washing down pavement or refilling a spa. A logo, “Surf City Saves,” was launched, and a hotline to tattle on water wasters and mandatory household limits, allowing just 249 gallons per day for a family of four, were set. A typical dishwasher load is 20 gallons, a load of laundry can be 25 gallons, a toilet flush can be 3 gallons. It adds up. Nationally, a family of four averages 400 gallons a day.

Most Santa Cruz residents, 94 percent of them, cut back as required, some with zeal.

Energy consultant Joel Kauffman has his household of three adults and a toddler using just over 100 gallons a day.

“We don’t use the shower as a place to hang out. That’s for the living room or the beach,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman has installed low-flow toilets and shower heads. They don’t always flush urine, they water their fruit trees with laundry runoff and a shower bucket gets dumped in the toilet tank or in the garden.

Some were not so ardent.

In June, the first month of rationing rules, 1,635 Santa Cruz household accounts faced $341,000 in fines. In July, 2,121 accounts had penalties applied, totaling $175,725.

So far $202,340 in fines have been suspended for Water School graduates. And there’s a waiting list for weeks to come.

While Santa Cruz has cut back 25 percent of its water use, Gov. Jerry Brown’s request in January that everyone cut back 20 percent had the opposite effect statewide. Some districts — Southern California coastal communities and the far northeastern slice of the state — actually used more, prompting a 1 percent increase in water use statewide. So starting in August, authorities are imposing statewide rationing with fines of up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and washing cars. Water cops are being hired and fines imposed.

Water Education Foundation Deputy Director Sue McClurg said they haven’t heard about schooling repeat offenders, “but if it can educate customers on water conservation, it could be helpful.”

“Most people just turn on the tap and don’t think about where their water comes from,” she said. “The more people learn about their source of drinking water, the more they learn about its management.”

University of California, Davis, professor Jay Lund, who directs the Center for Watershed Sciences, laughed when he heard about Santa Cruz’s approach, but he said it might catch on.

“It makes sense, like traffic school,” he said. “It has an educational purpose, but also a punishment aspect to it.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
Fall Harvest Festival brings children back to school

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Optimist Club brings youth together for Halloween golf

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Cut-a-thon to help fight cancer, abuse

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
School board candidates forum set next week

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
Staying active may prolong your life

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

.

US / World

Suspect arrested in death of 2 California deputies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
KC-10 from Travis lands in Houston, smoke in cockpit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Reagan astrologer, Joan Quigley, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Jury says castrated sex offender should be freed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Remains belong to missing Virginia student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Dallas nurse receives thanks, hug from Obama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 14 Comments

School gunman was Homecoming prince, students say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Lava creeps toward road on Hawaii’s Big Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gunman in Canada attack complained about mosque

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Egypt declares emergency in northern Sinai

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant group said to be using chlorine bombs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Putin accuses US of undermining global stability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

SEIU shouldn’t own Board of Supervisors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
Vote, and make a difference

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Yes on Measure A

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Spering best choice for county supervisor

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

Return Garamendi to Congress

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 27 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My mother-in-law wants me to convert to Catholicism, but I don’t want to

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Hello Kitty turning 40, and the birthday bash will be ‘supercute’

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
TLC cancels its ‘Honey Boo Boo’ series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9, 1 Comment

P.D. James’ riff on Jane Austen comes to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Hamilton helps Vanden sink Vallejo, 35-0

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Vintage rolls past Armijo, 55-8

By Mike Corpos | From Page: B1

Mustangs fall flat in rout by Wildcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 4 Comments

 
Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Vargas to take on Vogelsong in Game 4 of Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Falcons hang with Wolves in 34-8 setback

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Henley’s putting gets him lead at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Judge halts New Jersey’s sports betting plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joe Maddon exercises opt-out, won’t return to Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jamie McMurray bests Chase drivers to win pole

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union in Rice probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
SCC women’s soccer team falls to Mendocino 3-1

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Unfazed, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doing it his way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lloyd leads US women past Mexico 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders’ Woodley, Young expected to be placed on IR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

US official: Auto safety agency under review

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Ford profit falls in third quarter on truck costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Procter & Gamble taking out its batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
UPS expects double-digit surge in Dec shipments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US new-home sales close to flat in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 10/25/14

Real estate transactions for Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2