Water cutbacks suggested

Water users in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties need to cut back on their water use, officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said this week.

The agency said the cutbacks are not mandatory.

Earlier this month, the East Bay Municipal Utility District imposed a number of water rationing rules on its customers, including a ban on hosing down sidewalks.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, however, gets 85 percent of its water from Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which is replenished by melting snow in Yosemite National Park, while the East Bay relies on lower-altitude snowfall that feeds the Mokelumne River, according to Michael Carlin, SFPUC general manager for water.

While Hetch Hetchy is expected to fill this year, other downstream SFPUC reservoirs, such as the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo and the SFPUC’s share of water at the New Don Pedro Reservoir near Moccasin, are expected to remain relatively parched, according to Carlin.

The SFPUC hopes to avoid mandatory water rationing by building on a campaign which narrowly averted such drastic measures last year by helping reduce water use by one-eighth.

“This year, with other Bay Area water agencies calling for serious rationing, it’s very important that our customers continue the same daily water-wise habits, which were so effective in reducing overall consumption last year,”SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington said.

The agency is investing in a program of water conservation efforts, including rebates and giveaways on items such as rain tanks, shower heads and hose nozzles at its 1155 Market St. headquarters.

Additionally, the agency will also use state and federal grants to train a team of workers from low-income neighborhoods to conduct water audits and dispense advice and high-efficiency toilets within their communities, according to Steve Moss, chief executive of nonprofit SF Community Power, which will administer the program.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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