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- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wealthy California communities use more water than everyone else

Natural California landscaping that does not suck down rivers of water.

California Water Waisters

  • Californian's have traditionally used water as if they were living in rainy Seattle.  It is not so much about rich vs. poor, but rather dumb vs. smart.
  • While the drought rages on, California cities keep building more and more water sucking housing tracts and businesses.  After all, water is "magic".  You just turn on the tap and it will always come out.

(Contra Costa Times)  -  Only 24 miles separate the San Francisco East Bay communities of San Lorenzo and Diablo. But when it comes to California's relentless drought, they are a world apart.
Both communities receive their water from the same source -- the East Bay Municipal Utility District -- and both are bound by the same conservation rules and rates. But the residents of San Lorenzo, a working-class Alameda County suburb along Interstate 880, use a mere 51 gallons of water per person a day. In Diablo, an affluent community just over the hills in Contra Costa County known for its country club and tree-lined private streets, residents use nearly seven times more water -- 345 gallons per person per day.

The massive difference highlights an issue that has become more clear across California as the drought has worsened: Wealthy areas are using dramatically more water than lower-income areas.

Whether it's East Palo Alto and Hillsborough, Beverly Hills and Compton, or Richmond and Orinda, a huge disparity in residential water use is posing a challenge for water agencies as they try to curb consumption and write rules that treat all customers fairly. The divide is the focus of the latest installment in this newspaper's series "A State of Drought."

Robby Cella,16, of Diablo, carries a bucket holding three days worth of shower water that
he has collected to help water his mothers potted plants in Diablo, Calif., on Saturday,
June 13, 2015. The Cella family as stopped watering their front lawn, to the left, to help
conserve water during the drought. (DAN ROSENSTRAUCH)

"If I moved to Diablo tomorrow on a similar or even a slightly larger lot, I cannot conceive how I could use 350 gallons of water today with what I have learned about saving water," said San Lorenzo resident Steve Kirk, who has cranked down water use at his three-bedroom house to 26 gallons a day.

The pattern shows up throughout the state. A study released last year of residential water use in Southern California found wealthier Los Angeles neighborhoods consumed three times more water than less affluent ones. Although local climate and landscape type also played a role, a homeowner's income was a primary factor in how much water he or she used, the study found.
"Wealthy communities are using more water because they can. They have bigger houses and bigger lots. They can pay for it," said Stephanie Pincetl, a UCLA professor who worked on the study. "It's a historic pattern. People change habits reluctantly."

While the disparity between communities has become clear in monthly water consumption reports that the State Water Resources Control Board now requires from more than 400 water providers across California, EBMUD reports its water use as one overall number for 1.3 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

But this newspaper requested a breakdown of residential use by community, revealing for the first time the chasm here from one area to the other.
Overall, the newspaper's analysis showed that in 2014, all 27 communities in the district averaged 73 gallons per person per day. But the more affluent neighborhoods in warmer suburbs are using far more.
Diablo, with 345 gallons per person per day, was the heaviest user, followed by Alamo with 250, Lafayette with 181 and Danville-Blackhawk with 163. Among the lowest residential users were San Lorenzo, with 51 gallons, Berkeley with 52, San Pablo with 54 and Oakland with 57.
To be sure, weather plays an important role. The further inland an area is from San Francisco Bay and its fog, the warmer the temperatures. That explains some of the disparities, but not all of them.
"The same square footage of turf will need about 30 percent more water east of the hills than west of the hills," said Abby Figueroa, a spokeswoman for EBMUD. "But we're seeing per-capita use five or seven times higher in some places. We'd like to see those numbers come down."
Even near the bay, wealthy communities use more. Upscale Piedmont used 110 gallons per person in 2014, nearly double what working-class Richmond used, just 12 miles away.

Read More . . . .

A warning sign on a dried-out beach at Folsom Lake

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