As the State of California faces another dry year, state and regional agencies as well as public officials are working to ensure the Tri-Valley continues to meet residential and business needs for water now and in the future. In April, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a regional drought emergency that was expanded in May to include a total of 41 counties, including Alameda and Contra Costa. On May 27, the Tri-Valley’s Zone 7 Water Agency, California Water Service (Cal Water), the Cities of Pleasanton and Livermore, and Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) asked their customers and residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 10%.
Water conservation is needed to bolster drought resilience in the face of a diminished amount of seasonal runoff water from the state’s Sierra-Cascade snowpack, the agencies say. Two-thirds of California’s water begins its journey as snowmelt from high in the Sierra Nevada, according to Zone 7 Water Communications Specialist Alexandra Bradley. That snowmelt eventually flows into the Delta. From there the State Water Project infrastructure conveys the water to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland, from the Tri-Valley down to San Diego.
“The Tri-Valley has multiple sources of water supply storage, including its local groundwater supplies,” reports Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor. “This allows us to withstand the occasional dry winter. However, after two especially dry years in a row, we cannot rely on storage alone. Since we do not know how long these dry conditions will last, we need to start saving water now so our community will have more water available next year.”
During the extreme drought in 2014-2015, Tri-Valley residents and businesses demonstrated a great ability to respond, adapt, and conserve water, according to Tri-Valley water officials. Since that time, water use has not returned to its pre-2014 levels because customers have continued to use water responsibly. This behavior has encouraged Tri-Valley water officials that the community will continue to show its commitment to water conservation during 2021.
“Mindful water use this year is essential to preserving the Tri-Valley's water supply availability next year, in the event we are faced with yet another drier than normal winter and spring,” says Rita Di Candia, Environmental Services Manager for the City of Pleasanton. “The conversion to recycled water for the irrigation of landscaping throughout much of Hacienda has been a beneficial step towards conserving the community potable water supply by decreasing Pleasanton's potable water demands by approximately eight percent annually.”
Zone 7 is Pleasanton’s exclusive water wholesaler. That means the reliability of Pleasanton’s water supply is fundamentally linked to the reliability of Zone 7’s water supply, as the City of Pleasanton’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan May 2021 Draft points out. According to the plan, “Findings show the City can reliably meet its projected demands through 2045 in normal and dry hydrologic conditions, including single dry years and five consecutive dry years.”
Zone 7 Water Agency treats and manages water supplies in eastern Alameda County, including the city limits of Livermore, Pleasanton, and Dublin, and the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon. Wholesale drinking water service from Zone 7 is provided to the Tri-Valley's water retailers: Cal Water, the Cities of Livermore and Pleasanton, and DSRSD. In total, Zone 7 serves more than 260,000 people. The agency also distributes untreated water to local agriculture operations and golf courses.
Olivia Sanwong, a resident of Pleasanton, is the President of the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors. In a recent column for the Pleasanton Weekly, Sanwong outlined the efforts being made by Zone 7 to plan for the future. “Finding new sources of water for more than a quarter million people is no easy feat,” according to Sanwong. “We are looking at solutions to sustain the Tri-Valley community for generations to come. Over the past two years, the Tri-Valley Water Roundtable has worked collaboratively to identify options, develop studies, and provide information on how we can address this critical need for our community.” The roundtable includes elected officials from Zone 7 and each of the water retailers in the region: California Water Service, the Dublin San Ramon Services District, and the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore.
Zone 7 has invested in several projects for study and evaluation that may be future solutions to the region’s water supply needs, according to Sanwong. “These include Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion for local storage, Delta Conveyance for better reliability, Sites Reservoir Project for new supply, regional desalination efforts, and potable reuse for a local supply option.”
As water agencies and public officials work to boost the Tri-Valley’s future water supply, local businesses and residents can follow the lead of Hacienda and many of its tenants by finding ways to lower water use today. The City of Pleasanton offers a Water-Efficient Landscape Rebate Program and Zone 7 offers a Water-Efficient Lawn Conversion Rebate. If a household or business qualifies under the terms of both programs, customers can receive up to $1,000 (residential) or $5,500 (commercial/irrigation) by participating in both programs.
Many resources exist to help both businesses and households reduce the amount of water they use. The City of Pleasanton, Zone 7, and the State of California Water Conservation Portal all offer tips. Water conservation advice tailored specifically to commercial interests can be found at CoolCalifornia.org. Finally, Pleasanton high school and college students interning for the Go Green Initiative during the summer of 2020 produced a feature-length film about the water supply in their hometown. Hometown Water: The Lifeline of Pleasanton explores the endless importance of water's role in the City of Pleasanton and is available for viewing at no charge on YouTube.
For more information about Zone 7, please visit: www.zone7water.com.
For information about water conservation from the City of Pleasanton, please visit: www.cityofpleasantonca.gov/gov/depts/os/env/water/default.asp.
For more information about water-efficient landscaping rebates, please visit: www.cityofpleasantonca.gov/gov/depts/os/env/water/rebates.asp.
For more information about the State of California Water Conservation Portal, please visit: www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal.
For more information about CoolCalifornia.org, please visit: coolcalifornia.arb.ca.gov/article/save-water.
For more information about the Go Green Initiative, please visit: www.gogreeninitiative.org.
To view Hometown Water: The Lifeline of Pleasanton, please visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-7jN605W2Q.