Water Use in Alameda

How city departments reduced use

With East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) annoucing stage 4 drought restrictions last week, the Alameda Sun will be looking into the impact of drought on the Island City. While completely surrounded by water, the city of Alameda and its residents and businesses rely on EBMUD for its drinking water supply.

In this, the first of a series of articles will discuss the city of Alameda and its various departments’ water use. Among city departments, Public Works and Recreation and Parks are the two primary users of water due to irrigation needs.

"As one of the city’s main operational water users, Public Works has taken the lead on reporting the city’s municipal water use," stated Liz Acord, a management analyst for the city of Alameda Public Works Department. "In my role as management analyst, I work closely with Public Works staff, the Alameda Fire Department (AFD), Alameda Point, the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) and EBMUD to ensure the city is doing everything possible to reduce operational water use and be an active partner in addressing the drought."

Since February 2014 when the City Council mandated a 20 percent reduction, all departments have worked to meet or exceed that level. As of April 1, departments are aiming to comply with the state’s mandatory 25 percent.

Alameda Point

Staff has been working with EBMUD to look at meter data, and have noted one landscape meter along Main Street shows 95 percent reduction as of late 2014. Common area landscape watering has been reduced and common-area landscaping or bathroom leaks identified and repaired.

Staff has sent letters and emails to tenants, encouraging them to reduce use, not water down surfaces, fix restroom leaks and turn off decorative fountains. Water conservation stickers have been provided to tenants and management

Fire hydrant use has been restricted to emergency use only. Staff has also focused on key tenants to implement water reductions.

Recreation and Parks

ARPD "saves where they can." They let passive areas go dry but try to maintain a safe watering level at playing fields. Overall, the department has been irrigating 20 percent less based on the council’s February 2014 mandate.

On sports fields, infield hand-watering has been restricted to two times a week, mowing passive areas reduced to two times a month versus weekly during mowing season.

Watering Main Street Linear Park Turf hardscapes and tennis courts has been stopped, and no washing of playgrounds and playground furniture (unless absolutely necessary) has taken place. Other measures to preserve the fields include: use of soil conditioners to help browning and installation of educational signage.

Over the next six months irrigation timers at Krusi and Lydecker parks will be replaced, turf in parks will be reduced where feasible and mulching increased.

Fire Department

AFD has worked to reduce scheduled washing of trucks from each Sunday to every other Sunday since the Council mandate in 2014. In addition, all staff and utility vehicles have been washed at a maintenance center with reclaimed water.

Firefighting drills have been run without the use of water unless necessary. All facilities with landscaping will water no more than twice a week with no watering at Station No. 3. All facilities have been inspected to ensure low-flow showerheads and faucets are in place.

AFD staff has also been reminded to conserve per department policy and signs.

Public Works

Since February 2014 Public Works has watered 20 percent less in public landscaped areas, reduced automated irrigation systems and complete preventative maintenance to ensure systems are operating properly.

Staff has also installed 1,500 cubic yards of mulch citywide and installed water-holding gel for existing young trees and newly planted trees.


Contact Eric J. Kos at ekos@alamedasun.com.