Stay Safe, Smart for the Summer

Stay Safe, Smart for the Summer

We face some environmental challenges in the coming months, but nothing as daunting as what we experienced with COVID-19.

If we take the challenges of drought, potential power outages, and fire danger as seriously as we did COVID, we’ll weather this storm, too.

“We’re in a drought, the driest year on record,” according to Doug Linney, Alameda resident and President of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) board of directors.

EBMUD is asking users to reduce water usage by 10 to 15%. Linney joined my June 11 Mayor’s Town Hall to provide tips for conserving water.

He recommends repairing leaks, taking shorter showers, replacing lawns with drought-resistant landscaping.

EBMUD is offering rebates to support water-efficient gardens — up to $2,000 for residential users, and $15,000 for commercial customers. Visit ebmud.com for more information on saving water, and to download a rebate application.

“As temperatures rise, we may experience rolling blackouts,” says Ann McCormick, President of Alameda’s Public Utility Board which oversees our municipally owned electric utility, Alameda Municipal Power (AMP).

McCormick, another Town Hall guest, explained that AMP is part of the state power grid and must comply with requests from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) which manages electricity supply and demand on the state’s high-voltage power lines.

Rolling blackouts will last one to one and one-half hours, and AMP will alert customers ahead of time.

You can help reduce the chance of power outages by conserving energy when demand is highest, between 4 PM and 9 PM. Run major appliances and charge EV’s before or after those hours; keep your home cool by closing blinds and shades during the day.

Also avoid using Mylar balloons whose metallic coating conducts electricity and can cause a short circuit, power surge, or fire when they come in contact with power lines. Visit alamedamp.com or call 510-748- 3900 for more information and to sign up for Alerts.

“California’s fire season is now year-round, and smoke from wildfires impacts air quality,” says Alameda Fire Department Division Chief Mike Williams.

Williams advised Town Hall listeners to prepare for emergencies ahead of time: have three days of food and water per resident, medications, and food for family pets; keep one N95 mask per resident in your home for protection from smoke; have an air purification system to use when air quality is poor.

On “Spare the Air” days, remain inside with doors and windows closed, and don’t use wood-burning stoves or barbecues. Stay hydrated in hot weather. Watch the entire Town Hall at www.youtube.com/cityofalameda.

There won’t be a 4th of July Parade this year, but Alameda Recreation and Parks Department is holding a city-wide “Porch of July” decorating contest, which also includes yards, front windows, and vehicles.

Enter to win cool prizes, or just enjoy viewing other residents’ creations. For more information visit alamedaca.gov/recreation.

Fireworks aren’t allowed in Alameda — they’re a fire hazard! — but the City of San Francisco is hosting a July 4th fireworks display from two barges in the Bay beginning at 9:30 p.m. Take the ferry from Main Street Alameda to Pier 41 to enjoy this event. Schedule information is available at sanfranciscobayferry.com

There’s more exciting ferry news! The new Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal at Alameda Point begins providing direct weekday commute service to Downtown San Francisco/Ferry Building today. Pedestrians and bicyclists can access the Seaplane Lagoon Terminal via the Bay Trail and Cross Alameda Trail, and on August 9, AC Transit’s Line 78 begins direct bus service timed to meet each ferry.

The opening of our newest ferry terminal signals the beginning of our recovery from the pandemic. For the past 18 months, Alameda residents and businesses diligently observed COVID-19 precautions, then showed up in record numbers to be vaccinated. As of June 28, 74.4% of all residents 12 years and older were fully vaccinated, and 86.7% had received at least one shot. Well done, Alameda!

Children under 12 who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated, and unvaccinated adults are especially vulnerable to the more potent Delta variant and should continue wearing a mask when they leave home, maintaining six feet of distance from people they don’t live with, and washing hands frequently to keep themselves and others safe from COVID-19.

Now it’s time to reflect on how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished working together. Happy 4th of July and Happy Summer! Be safe and stay Alameda Strong!

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the mayor of Alameda.