print friendly textonly

Over the past months I have been attending meetings with various regional and County groups to discuss and plan for how we deal with sea level rise. Scientists believe that in the next century or perhaps less, we will see about a 3-foot increase in sea level which will also raise the level of the Bay.

In addition, several of us have met with some FEMA representatives, as the flood regulations have changed and we need to look into raising our levees not just to protect for the 100-year flood, but now to protect against the 150-year flood and against waves that might, in an historic storm, overtop our levees. Thus, for FEMA's purposes we simply have too much water and have to plan for that.

In contrast, the State says that we do not have enough water and so we have to plan for that too. Earlier this month, I attended the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency Board Policy Committee Meeting, of which I am the chair, and among the items discussed was the implementation of the decision made earlier that week by our Governor to require a 25% across the board domestic water use reduction.

After the Governor issued his executive order, the State Water Resources Control Board began the process of issuing regulations. The regulations are attempting to achieve a 25% reduction from 2013 use. That, in and of itself is prejudicial to Foster City because we implemented our conservation efforts in 2010 and in the intervening 5 years have seen a domestic water use reduction of about 28%. The State however, disregards that and only looks at the reduction that we have achieved between 2013 and 2014 of about 5%.

Initially, the regulations proposed to put every retail water agency into one of four categories. Tier 1 is for those agencies with a per capital daily use of 55.6 gallons or less and those agencies are required to achieve an additional reduction of 10% from 2013 use. Tier 2 (our tier) is for agencies with per capita daily use of 55.8 gallons to 110 gallons. Those agencies have to show further reduction of 20% from 2013 levels. Tier 3 is 110 gallons per day to 165 gallons per day and those agencies have to show further reductions of 25% and Tier 4 is everyone over 165 gallons per day and those agencies have to show further reductions of 35%. The following week, last week, additional tiers were added and Foster City went from a total 25% reduction to a 12% reduction.

Although the revised tiers are better, this scheme still prejudices cities, like Foster City, that planned in advance of the drought and are already using much less water. For example, according to the State our daily per capita use is 67.2 gallons so we fall into Tier 2. Although we have achieved a 28% reduction since we implemented our conservation efforts, we only get credit for the reduction since 2013 of 5% so we have to reduce our water use by an additional 7%!

Compare that to another Town in San Mateo County whose water use, again according to the State, is 281.2 gallons per person per day (putting them in the bottom tier) but because they have reduced their use by 25% since 2013, they will only have to reduce another 11%! As a result, that other Town will be in compliance with State law despite the fact that their daily use will be 245 gallons per day per person or about FOUR TIMES what the law will allow us to use in Foster City!!!!!

Another example is the San Juan Water District whose per capita use is 383.7 gallons and they can be in compliance by bringing their use down to 338 gallons per day!!! In fact there are three agencies in our State whose daily per capita use exceeds 500 gallons per day and they will only have to reduce by 36%!

Compounding this unfairness even further is the fact that the regulations do nothing about agricultural use, despite the fact that 80% of California's water goes to agriculture.

It would seem to me that a fair solution would be to say that each household gets so much water and everyone needs to reduce to that level. Thus, prior conservation efforts are not penalized and prior abuse is no longer tolerated. Unfortunately there is no one making decisions listening to me so that is not what is going to happen. Thus, these are, for yet another reason, historic times. We will continue to work for the best interest of Foster City but stay tuned for more on this because it is far from over.

Anyone who is interested in looking at these facts for themselves can find them at www.waterboards.ca.gov and click on the links related to Emergency Water Conservation Regulations.

Those are my thoughts. You can always share your ideas with me by email at cbronitsky@fostercity.org or call me at (650) 286-3504.

Council Corner

April 22, 2015

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200