Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Should Keep Saving Water In The Winter

Even though we've been seen plenty of rain and snow this fall, CCWD's Drought Management Plan is still in place.

You need to continue to save water and remain below your water budget to avoid excess use charges.

Though the start of the rain season has been good, there is still a long way to go in the season. If the rain and snow in the Sierra stops or tapers off, we would be facing continuing drought conditions. So far, so good.

If you like sports analogies: "We're only in the First Quarter, anything thing can happen in the next three," or "It's still the first inning," or "We may be in the lead by the first pit stop, but we haven't won the race."

You get the picture, we'll keep you updated.

Five Ways To Save Water In The Winter:

1. Insulate your water pipes. Insulation saves water two ways, it will take less time to heat water in the house and also avoids water loss and expensive repairs if the pipes burst in freezing temperatures. Insulation helps save water all year long.

2. Plan your spring planting with our new gardening information site. Our site is geared to Contra Costa weather and soil conditions, and is a concise and fun way to pick plants for your water-tolerant garden. There are pictures, examples of drought-tolerant yards and more.

3. Continue to take a short shower, pick up one of our free timers to remind you to the showers short. We also have free water saving shower heads. You can get them both at our CCWD Main Office at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord.

4. Remove your lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant plants. We'll pay you up to $500 to do it. You need to follow all the steps to qualify for the money.

5. Double-check to make sure your sprinklers are off. Since most timers are set to water in the early morning, you may not know if yours are running.
CCWD Customers Continue To Save Water

The statistics aren't changing much, and that's good. CCWD customers are continuing to save water. Between May 1 and Nov. 30, customers have saved 20 percent when compared to the historic average of the years 2005, 06 and 07.

That remains impressive, and customers are saving more than the goal of 15 percent.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Gardening Website Filled with Information on Drought -Tolerant Plants

Looking for ideas for drought-tolerant plants? Take a look at our new “Gardening in Contra Costa County” website.

It’s designed for Contra Costa weather and soil conditions. It features all kinds of information and photos that will help you select beautiful plants that don’t need a lot of water.

The site is easy to navigate.

There are photos of many types of drought-tolerant yards. Click on a plant, and it will show you all kinds of information on it. You can create a custom plant list that you can print and take to your nursery.

Turn Off Your Sprinklers

Wet weather is predicted for most of next week. We're please to see the rain and snow, but it frustrates us to see sprinklers on when it's raining.

It's a waste.

So double check to make sure the sprinklers are off at your home or office.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CCWD Will Pay Up To $500 To Remove Your Lawn

CCWD has launched a new program that will pay you an incentive of up to $500 to remove the front lawn of your home and replace the grass with drought-tolerant plants or even selected types of artificial lawn.

The District’s Pilot Water-Efficient Landscape Rebate Program provides an incentive to property owners to replace high-water use lawns with low-water use landscape plants and

The program offers customers fifty cents per square foot to replace eligible lawn areas with water-efficient landscaping using plants and shrubs with low water requirements.

It is open to residential and non-residential customers who receive treated water in the CCWD retail and wholesale service areas.

CCWD will rebate residential customers up to $500 (one thousand square feet of lawn removed).

Non-residential customers can receive up to $5,000 (ten thousand square feet of lawn removed).

You need to follow all the steps to qualify for the money. Look here for more information.

December Water Saving Tips

During December there are a number of things to do to keep your garden looking good while saving water.

* Rake up fallen leaves and put them in your compost pile. Never use a blower to clean out shrub beds as it can blow out mulch and topsoil and expose plant roots.

* Turn off the watering system completely. Only water manually if we don’t receive rain for two to three weeks. Remember, some lawns will go partially dormant and turn brown in the winter if we have a cold spell. They don’t need irrigation. They will bounce back in spring when the weather warms up.

* Don’t mow lawns when they are wet. This will cause soil compaction and hurt the quality of the lawn. Wait until the grass is dry even if it takes an extra week or so.

Looking For Water Saving Plant Ideas?

Stop by our nearly one-acre Demonstration Garden at
CCWD’s District Center office at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord.

The garden has more than 50 types of drought-tolerant plants ranging from sea lavender to the California fuchsia. We also have trees such as the desert willow and pomegranate.

The garden was originally planted in 1991 to replace a large water-drinking lawn. It was refurbished this year with more plants and a modern irrigation system.

It is one of 78 Demonstration Gardens in California recognized by the Water Education Foundation, The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

The garden now uses one-third of the water that the old lawn consumed….and we never have to mow it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

CCWD Water Customers Have Saved 20 Percent Since May 1

CCWD customers continue to save even more water, and their savings now totals 20 percent between May 1 and Oct. 31.

This remains a remarkable result, and well above our original goal of 15 percent. Since the Drought Management Program began in May, our customers have consistently been at or above the goal.

The savings are compared to average water used in the years 2005, '06 and '07.

Of course, the drought is far from over. As fall ends and winter arrives, we're losing potential rainy days. It will take more than average rain and snowfall in California to get us out of drought conditions.

In November, with its shorter days, we advise that you water your lawn only once a week, and your trees and shrubs don't need any watering at all.

Customers Recognized For Saving Water

CCWD's Board of Directors recognized two of its customers for saving water in October.

The City of Pleasant Hill was honored for proactively managing 65 landscape irrigation accounts and reducing consumption by more than 50 percent, saving at least 4.5 million gallons since May 2009.

The Dana Hills Homeowners’ Association in Clayton was also honored for continuing its active management of its landscape and saving more than 1.5 million gallons since May 2009 compared to its historical use.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Car Wash and Mulch Coupons End Nov 1.

CCWD's popular car wash and mulch discount coupon programs end on Sunday, Nov. 1

The coupons are designed to promote water savings. The car wash program coupons apply only to 11 local car washes that recycle water. So with the expected sunny weather this weekend, go out and wash your car, and save a little money.

With the mulch program,local nurseries and garden centers are giving discounts of all kinds on purchasing mulch. Mulch will help you save water in your yard, and will also cut down on weeding.

So get out there and mulch!

Don't Forget To Cut Back Your Sprinkler Timers

With shorter days, and thankfully some rainy weather , don't forget to reduce the days of your automatic sprinkler timers.

In October, we recommend watering your lawn only twice a week, and your trees only once a week.

Replace Your Timer's Backup Battery With The Time Change

Most people replace their smoke alarm batteries when the time changes each spring and fall. Don't forget to replace your sprinkler timer's backup battery as well.

In some digital models, if the power goes out and the backup battery is dead, when power it restored the timer will revert to a default mode. So instead of having a finely-tuned water-saving irrigation system, you'll probably have one that wastes water, and you may not even know it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Turn Down Your Sprinkler Timers!

There's little doubt that fall has finally arrived in Contra Costa, with shorter days and cool brisk mornings and evenings.

This is a great -- and really easy -- opportunity to save a lot of water, by turning down your sprinkler timers.

CCWD's Conservation staff recommends that during October you need to water the lawn only twice a week, and the shrubs only once a week.

Many people forget to change their sprinkler timer schedules. With the shorter and cooler days, you just don't need so much water.

District Honors Water Savers

The Contra Costa Water District Board of Directors honored four of its customers in October for saving water.

Board President Joseph L. Campbell said CCWD customers have been saving water, "and we thought we'd recognize some people who are doing it well."

Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Concord's Director of Public Works Alex Pascual and Public Works Horticulture Advisor Scott Vasquez represented the city at the ceremony. The city began to plan early for the potential of the drought, used CCWD rebates to upgrade central irrigation controls and has saved more than 9.7 million gallons of water during the summer months of July and August. Mayor Hoffmeister said the city's water-saving efforts have "gone much smoother than we expected," and lauded the city staff's efforts to find creative solutions to the problems presented by having less water available.

Roy and Rosadelia Detwiler of Concord were recognized for their water saving efforts in their landscaping at their home. They have converted both their front and back yards into beautiful drought-tolerant landscapes. They reduced their water use by more than 30 percent and are saving an average of 160 gallons of water per day. They have been featured on the television program 'Water Matters' and their house is also a stop on the "Bringing Back the Natives" garden tour that CCWD sponsors. You can see the Water Matters segment on their home here.

The David Deutscher Company in Pleasant Hill was honored for a project in which it has removed more than a third of an acre of turf grass and updated its existing sprinkler system with a modern drip system. The company expects to cut 50 percent of its water use with the changes.

Also honored were James and Stacey Morikawa of Concord who have been featured on a CCWD web video for saving more than 1,600 gallons of water per day following a CCWD Home Water Use Survey. You can see a video on their story here.

Mulch and Car Wash Coupons Good Only Through Nov. 1

Don’t forget to use our Mulch and Car Wash coupons before their Nov. 1 experation date. We can save you money when buying mulch at 30 local nurseries, which saves water in the garden and at local car washes that recycle their water.

ow Pay Your Water Bill With A Credit Card Online

You can now pay your Contra Costa Water District bill online with a credit card.

It's an easy and fast way to pay your water bill. Take a look here.

You will need you account number to complete the transaction.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Customers Continue to Conserve! Good Job!!!

Contra Costa Water District customers have reduced summer water consumption by 18 percent overall, beating the District's goal of 15 percent.

“Our customers are showing how committed they are to water conservation,” said CCWD General Manager Walter J. Bishop.

"Our customers are being extremely responsive to the reality that the state is in a third year of drought and may face more dry years ahead,” Mr. Bishop said. “Water conserved now will be supply insurance for next year should conditions remain dry."

Through August, 85 percent of the District’s treated-water customers maintained water use within their water budgets, saving water and money. Only about 15 percent, meanwhile, either increased water usage relative to historical use or failed to live within their requested water budget.

Take a Look at New CCWD Videos

We have four videos online we thought may be helpful.

Two of the videos are short segments from the "Water Matters' NBC 11 television show that will air for the final time on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 10:30 a.m. The other two were produced by CCWD.

We expect to produce more videos, including a step by step series on how our Water Conservation Supervisor is removing the lawn in front of his home.

All the videos are short, and we hope you find them useful.

See how CCWD performs a How Water Use Survey.

Learn how to read your water meter.

See how a local family has turned their front and back yards into drought-tolerant gardens.

See how one family is saving 1,633 gallons of water per day.

CCWD Has Rebates on 'Smart' Sprinkler Controllers

The use of “smart” irrigation controllers in home landscaping systems is the biggest breakthrough in outdoor water savings since the introduction of drip irrigation some 30 years ago.

With most controllers, the irrigation systems go on when the rains stop in the spring. The programs run on the same schedules regardless of temperatures, different humidity conditions, and length of days. Frequently, plants receive either too much or too little water, because the amounts do not change and the conditions do.

“Smart” controllers can save a significant amount of water because they are programmed with three types of additional information: Built-In logic, Entered Data, and Real-Time Data.

1)The first category, Built-In Logic, has solar radiation values for every micro-climate by postal zip code or latitude. Some systems can even measure solar radiation on site.

2) Entered Data includes information about each zone to be watered, including soil type, plant type, irrigation type (sprinklers or drip) and slope.

3) Real-Time Data uses on-site sensors or wireless ET weather date service to provide fast response to unexpected rain storms or heat waves.

These new Smart irrigation controllers range in price from $200 to about $700, depending on which features you need or want. Most include pre-purchase training to ensure correct installation and optimum performance. Some brands allow discounts for upgrades.

CCWD offers rebates on these controllers for commercial and residential use, we have more information here.

Now Pay Your Water Bill With A Credit Card Online

You can now pay your Contra Costa Water District bill online with a credit card.

It's an easy and fast way to pay your water bill. Take a look here.

You will need you account number to complete the transaction.

Water Conservation Classes Coming Up

Two classes are coming up at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.

Lawn Removal September 19, 10 a.m.-noon
Presenter: Kat Weiss
Ready to ditch your lawn and put in a low-water landscape instead? Learn how to remove and replace your lawn in this hands-on workshop.

Composting for Families October 3, 10 a.m. -12 noon
Presenter: Karen Gardner
Anyone from the age of 7 to 101 is welcome at this family-friendly workshop on home composting. Learn about different methods of turning your food scraps into plant food.

For more information, pricing and reservations, contact the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tour CCWD Water Facilities Sept. 18 & Oct. 9

Curious to see how your water gets to you, where it’s pumped from or how it’s treated?

CCWD offers four tours of its facilities to its customers each year, and two of these popular tours are coming up this fall.

These bus tours are educational outings that include visits to a water treatment plant, an intake facility and Los Vaqueros.

The tour on Friday, Sept. 18 has many seats available, and the Friday, Oct. 9 tour has a few.

The tours depart from the Concord District Center (1331 Concord Ave., Concord) at 8 a.m. We aim to return by 3:30 p.m. and lunch is provided.

Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis. If you can’t make these fall dates, but are interested, we’ll put your name on a list for the spring.

There is no cost, and only CCWD customers may attend. These tours are offered for adults over 18 only. Please send an e-mail, or call (925) 688-8175.

Shorter Days Mean Less Water Demand

Your lawn and landscape plants will begin to demand less water during August. This is because the time between sunrise and sunset is getting shorter. By the middle of August, reduce your watering run times by a couple of minutes on each station. Alternatively, you can reduce the weekly watering schedule by one day.

Mulch Program Continues To Grow

We now have 21 stores that offer discounts on buying mulch through our "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch" program.

Mulch is a great way to save water, especially around shrubs and trees, and prevent weed growth.

Different stores have different discounts, but we're sure you can find one that meets your needs.

Water Matters This Saturday

NBC 11 will air "Water Matters" on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 3 p.m.

The show features a segment on CCWD that includes how one family has transformed their front and back yard into low-water gardens, and what's involved in a CCWD home water survey.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free High-Efficiency Toilets Available in Antioch

A company in Antioch is using CCWD's high-efficiency toilet voucher program to make free toilets available to District customers.

Southwest Environmental is making the 1.6 gallon per flush toilets available for free, and has a selection of models, including some with the dual flush feature that is gaining popularity and saves even more water.Here is more information on their web site:

You need to get a voucher from CCWD to get
the toilet, and still need to have it installed.

One Customer Is Saving 1,633 Gallons of Water Per Day!

Take a look at this video of a Concord family that has made some simple changes, and are now saving a lot of money and an average of 1,633 gallons of water per day. The video is not even three minutes long.

Now Pay Your Water Bill With A Credit Card Online!

You can now pay your Contra Costa Water District bill online with a credit card.

It's an easy and fast way to pay your water bill. Take a look here.

You will need you account number to complete the transaction.

"Beat The Drought" Kiosks Now At Martinez, Brentwood Libraries

Our 'Beat the Drought' electronic kiosks have moved again, and are now at the Martinez and Brentwood libraries.

Stop in and take a look, both kiosks have water saving quizzes and games. You can even test your knowledge of Hollywood movies with water themes.

Classes Coming Up In September

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek is a great place to visit and get ideas on ways to save water, and still have a beautiful garden.

There are a bunch of classes coming up in September, including one on ways to remove your lawn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wow!!!! CCWD Customers Have Saved 19%

In the first three months of CCWD's Drought Management Program, customers have saved 19 percent, exceeding the goal by a healthy margin.

“Our customers in Central and Eastern Contra Costa County are doing an outstanding job of conserving water,” said General Manager Walter J. Bishop. “The focus of the program is reducing outdoor water use and the data so far shows our customers have responded in a positive way. Their efforts are appreciated. We also know that our customers are seeing conservation benefits in their pocketbooks because at the same time they’re saving water, they’re saving money, too.”

The District’s 15 percent drought management program started May 1. The program did not raise water rates. The District sent proposed water budgets to all customers and informed them that excess-use fees would be applied to customers who increase water use or consume more than 1000 gallons per day. The excess-use fee was designed to give customers a financial incentive to conserve water.

Read CCWD's News Release

Our Surveyors Track Down A Hot Leak

A "hot leak" might be a great source of newsworthy information for a news reporter, but in the water industry a hot leak is NOT what you would expect.

One of our water surveyors was working at a customers' home helping them save water, and was puzzled by an apparent leak. The water meter's "low flow" indicator kept turning, no matter where he looked at the house. Most leaks reveal themselves after some investigation. The usual suspects of a leaky toilet or sink were ruled out, as was the sprinkler system.

Still, the indicator on the water meter kept spinning.

Finally, he noticed a wet spot next to the side of the house. He touched the ground, and the ground and the mud were warm! Which is really weird, and the last thing he expected outside a home.

It took awhile to figure out, but the warm water was coming from a hot water pipe next to the house. The older home was built on a concrete slab and at some point a hot water pipe buried in the concrete broke. Rather than cut into the concrete, a new hot water pipe was laced through the house and then outside it into the ground.

It was here where the leak was taking place, wasting water and energy at the same time. When our surveyor turned off the water to the water heater, the indicator stopped spinning.

The homeowner called a plumber right away.

A Great Resource For Drought Resistant Plants, and a Super Video

The UC Davis Arboretum's web site is a wonderful resource for looking for drought resistant plants that will thrive in Contra Costa County.

Look for this list of plant "all-stars."

Also, there is a great video on the Arboretum that will give you all kinds of ideas for planting in your yard.

Classes For Professional Irrigators Coming Up

EBMUD is again hosting Irrigation Association classes at its West Oakland facility. Once again SpotWater Management will be conducting the classes and handling all registration (except for the exam registration which the Irrigation Association handles).

There will have an Irrigation Contractor class on Oct. 29 and 30, and a Landscape Irrigation Auditor class on Nov. 9 and 10. The certification exam for both classes will be held at the same location on Nov. 11. Remember that the IA requires that exam registration be completed at least 30 days before an exam, so that is October 11.

Please email SpotWater Management if you have questions about the course content and for registration information at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Make Your Garden Part of 'Bringing Back The Natives' Tour

If you have a garden or yard that has more than 50 percent native plants, you may want to be part of next year's "Bringing Back The Natives Garden Tour."

The tour is set for Saturday, May 2, 2010 and includes gardens in both Alameda and Contra Costa County. More than 50 gardens are featured, and yours could be included as well.

CCWD has long been a sponsor of the award-winning tour since drought-tolerant native plants are featured in the gardens.

Lawns Are Water Guzzlers

We've heard from customers that keeping lawns healthy during the drought is one of their biggest challenges in saving water. We have a good guide to keeping your lawn going even with less water. It's called Drought Survival 101, and you can see it online.

The Santa Clara Water Agency estimates that by cutting your watering times by one minute, you'll save 20 gallons of water per day.

Mulch & Car Wash Coupon Programs Continue To Do The Job

CCWD’s “Mulch, Mulch, Mulch” and “Smart Wash Car Wash” programs have been very successful.

There’s no limit on how often you use the coupons. So print some coupons, then stop by the nursery and throw some bags of mulch in the trunk, then detour to the car wash and save some water there.

Water Matters Gets Additional Air Dates

Water Matters, a half-hour show on local water issues, has been given six additional air dates on NBC Channel 11

The show has segments on three water districts, including CCWD.

The District segment features Assistant General Manager Greg Gartrell and Water Conservation Supervisor Chris Dundon, along with customers who are saving water in their drought-resistant yards.

Here's the schedule for the show, sponsored in part by CCWD. The web page devoted to the program is here.

Saturday, Aug.8 noon

Sunday, Aug. 16 10am

Saturday, Aug. 29 3pm

Sunday, Sept. 6 10am

Sunday Sept. 13 9pm (post NFL)

Saturday Sept. 26 10:30am

Huell Howser To Feature CCWD

Speaking of television shows, TV personality Huell Howser interviewed Greg Gartrell earlier this week for a future feature on his California Water series titled “Tap Water: The Drink of Choice”.

Greg and Huell discussed the water quality benefits that Los Vaqueros provides for Contra Costa Water District customers. They also discussed the watershed’s beneficial habitat and recreation opportunities.

Filming is underway and the segment is schedule to be available this fall.

CCWD To Stop Filling Los Vaqueros on Aug. 1

The Contra Costa Water District will stop filling Los Vaqueros on Aug. 1. The reservoir will be about 88 percent filled at that time.

Water quality in the Delta is dropping, so the District will most-likely soon be using water stored at Los Vaqueros, meaning the reservoir water level will start heading down.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Drip Systems Explained at Ruth Bancroft & Markham Gardens

Drip irrigation will be explained at two of the area's most beautiful gardens in August.

A new summer workshop series at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek launches with a talk on drip irrigation by Water Management Trainer and Landscape Designer Lori Palmquist on Saturday, Aug. 18 and continues through October with other topics ranging from Lawn Removal to Harvesting Rainwater.

CCWD is a co-sponsor of these talks.

The cost is:

$20 for Ruth Bancroft Garden Members
$20 for Garden Conservancy Members
$25 for the General Public

Sign up for three or more classes from the series, and receive a $10 discount!

Here's more information:

Markham Garden Also Has A Drip Irrigation Class

The Urban Farmer’s Tom Bressen will speak on "Making Every Drop Count Tips and Techniques for Landscape Watering" on Saturday, Aug. 8 from 10 a.m until noon.

Tom wrote a 32-page book on drip irrigation titled:"The Drip Irrigation Handbook"

The presentation will be held at the Garden Center Markham Nature Park and Arboretum,1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.

The cost is $10.

Here's more information.

Wow! You've Been Replacing Toilets & Washers

CCWD's fiscal year closed on June 30, and our customers have been working hard to save water by buying high-efficiency appliances.

Rebates for high-efficiency washing machines were up 57 percent when compared to a year ago, with 3,600 rebates provided. You can earn a rebate of up to $200 on a new-approved high-efficiency washing machine.

Rebates for high-efficiency toilets were up 37 percent with 2,300 rebates provided. You can earn up to $175 for an approved high-efficiency toilet.

The nice thing about these rebates is that the new toilets and washers will be saving water for many, many years into the future.

CCWD's rebate program is unchanged for the new fiscal year, but the funds that pay the rebates have limits.

We suggest you buy new toilets and washers as soon as comfortably possible to ensure that you get the rebate you're entitled to.

Look here for more information on CCWD rebates.

Water Matters Saturday

Water Matters' the half-hour television special that discusses local water issues and ways to save water, is now on the air.

Co-sponsored by CCWD, the Marin Water District and the Sonoma County Water Agency, the program discusses local water issues and ways you can save water at home.

The CCWD segment includes a portion on Los Vaqueros, what's involved with a CCWD home water survey, and living with a drought resistant front and back yard.

You can see it this Saturday at 11 a.m. on NBC 11, it will also be on the air again Sunday, Sept. 13 at 9 p.m after the NFL game)

Look here for more information on Water Matters.

With Crazy Weather, Here's a Hint For Knowing When to Water

With our weather being hot one week, and downright cool the next, it's hard to know when's a good time to water your lawn.

In our "Drought 101" phamplet, we advise people to watch their lawn. "If your lawn takes on a blue-grey tone or the grass blades don't spring back after you walk on in, it's time to water."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cover That Pool, Save Water & Money

If you have a swimming pool, the automatic filling mechanism makes it difficult to know how much water you’re losing to evaporation since the pool is always full.

There are many variables to water loss in a pool, such as wind, how much sun is on your pool, temperature at night and during the day, the size of your pool, how often it’s used, and humidity. But you can lose up to 1.5 inches of water per week in your pool due to evaporation. Unless you have a little pool, that's a lot of water.

One way to cut down water loss is with a pool cover. It keeps the water where it belongs, and can also cut your chemical loss, saving money in two areas.

So, take a look at a pool cover. CCWD recommends you consider the type of pool cover that can support a person’s weight if someone were to fall in.

The Department of Energy has a good guide to pool covers.

Water Matters on NBC 11

Look for a new television show on NBC 11 that focuses on how local people are saving water.

CCWD is one of three water districts in the Bay Area sponsoring the television show “Water Matters.” The half-hour show covers all kinds of topics about water, including lots of practical tips for saving water.

Part of the show tells how CCWD gets its water, and follows a District Home Water Use Survey. There is also a visit with a local family who has installed beautiful drought-resistant gardens in their front and back yards that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

The show is set for:

Saturday, July 25: 11 a.m.
Sunday, September 13 9 p.m. after the football game.

We’ll expect to soon have clips from the show on our website:

City of Clayton Asking For Water Waste Help

The City of Clayton – recently named by Money Magazine 87th among the “100 Best Places to Live” – is asking for help in finding water waste due to broken sprinklers.

An exhibit in the Clayton Library asks people to help the city to find broken sprinklers at homes, on median strips and parks by calling City Hall at 673-7300 or sending an e-mail through its website.

In addition, the city has relaxed its rules requiring that lawns stay green.

Good job, Clayton!

You Can Call Us As Well

If you see water waste in any area of the District, call our Water Savings Team at (925) 688-8044 or by sending an e-mail to

Include as much information as you think we'll need to solve the problem.

We’ve had hundreds of calls, and nearly all of them have been solved after a visit from our Water Savings Team. Thanks

Mulch & Car Wash Coupon Programs Have Been Huge Successes

CCWD’s “Mulch, Mulch, Mulch” and “Smart Wash Car Wash” programs have been very successful.

There’s no limit on how often you use the coupons. So print some coupons, then stop by the nursery and throw some bags of mulch in the trunk, then detour to the car wash and save some water there. Drive home with a clean car; put some mulch in the garden and save even more water.

Water Conservation Kiosks Move

Our popular “Beat the Drought” Water Conservation kiosk is now at the Clayton Library and will soon be at the Bay Point Library. Look for the blue kiosk, and see how Hollywood has glamorized water!

Friday, July 17, 2009

CCWD Customers Saved 15% ; Good Job!

CCWD customers have certainly done their share to "Beat The Drought."

In May and June, they saved 15 percent, which is exactly on target for the District's Drought Management Program.

The 15 percent savings is compared to an average for the years 2005, '06 and '07. These are the same years the District uses as a base for comparisons as part of the "Drought Management Program."

We don't use 2008 as a comparison, since we had asked customers to voluntarily cut back that year, and many did.

In the first two months of the Drought Management Program, customers have responded exactly to the level we have asked them to. It's remarkable.

Of course July and August are usually the hottest months of the year, so customers need to keep on working at saving water. But if the keep doing what they have been, we should be in pretty good shape.

Our customers have been sending us ideas on how they save water at home, and you can read it here.

If you haven't done so already, ask our water surveyors to come out to your home. You can read about the program here, and sign up online.

Exceptions Not Retroactive

Some customers have waited until they receive their bill before filing for an exceptions request, which allow increases to their individual water budget due to changes in their home.

These changes range from having the in-laws move in to having a medical condition that requires more water.

The thing to remember: The exceptions request is not retroactive.

If you let us know that your circumstances have changed, after you receive your bill, it's too late. If the exception is granted, it only applies to future bills.

You can fill out an exceptions form online.

'Water Matters' Returns Sunday

"Water Matters," The half-hour television special that explores the drought, and also shows how different people are saving water, will air again on Sunday, July 19 at 3 p.m. on NBC 11.

The show features CCWD in one of its segments, showing what happens during a typical water survey, along with how one family has cut their water use dramatically by redesigning their year.

It will also be aired two more times:
Saturday, July 25: 11 a.m.
Sunday, September 13 9 p.m. (post NFL game)

Look here for more on the show, including viewing clips, please look here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Water Saving Ideas From CCWD Customers

A few weeks ago we asked our customers for some water-saving ideas, and they came through nicely with some sound ways to save water.

The ranged from saving water while waiting for the shower to warm up, to fixing faulty sprinkler control valves.

So please take a look, maybe there's an idea or two you can use to save water and some money as well.

Hot Weather & Saving Your Lawn & Plants

High temperatures in the Concord-area are expected to remain in the low 90s for next 10 days. So here are some ways to save your plants and keep your water bill low from Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle:

If you have plants that were shocked during the last heat wave, you may spray a special wax on them that will reduce water loss on hot afternoons. Ask at your local nursery for these waxes, that are also used as a natural insect repellent.

As for the rest of your yard, add mulch --if you haven't already-- to areas around your bushes, shrubs and near trees. Many local nurseries are participating in our Mulch, Mulch, Mulch program, that includes good-sized discounts for mulch when you print our coupons.

Another suggestion from Bob is for your lawn...usually the biggest water guzzler in most homes.

Mow the lawn at the highest level possible, like 2.5 to 3 inches. Bob says you then spread a thin layer -- about 1/4 inch -- of compost over the top of the lawn. This will keep moisture in your lawn. Bob says even in the heat, the most you need to water your lawn is about four times per week.

It's probably too late in the season to receive many benefits from aerating your lawn, said Bob.

Free Water Wise CD Available

Our popular custom Water Wise CD is available for free. It's designed especially for the conditions in the Contra Costa areas. If you're replacing water guzzling plants, or are redesigning your yard, this is the guide for you.

All you need to get one is be a CCWD customer, and sign up. We'll send the CD to your home.

The CD has all kinds information on plants that thrive in the Contra Costa area. It includes:"

* a comprehensive, easy-to-understand plant selection guide takes the guesswork out of plant placement and care, allowing the creation of a lush, healthy garden.

* tips on practical matters to consider before beginning a project to avoid costly mistakes

* examine the "dos and don'ts" of water-wise gardening

* learn how to determine water needs before you plant

* discover the best methods for eliminating pests

* try your hand at composting.

Looking For A Nice Simple Water Saving Video?

The California Water Awareness Campaign put together this 13-minute video with lots of practical hints for saving water. If you're new to the idea of saving water, this is a great way to see all the things you can do.

It will point you in the right direction to save water right away. Just for fun, many of the scenes were shot right here in Contra Costa County.

Have any questions about saving water?

Send us an e-mail, we answer promptly!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

'Water Matters' Hits The Airwaves

'Water Matters' the half-hour television special that discusses local water issues and ways to save water, is now on the air.

Co-sponsored by CCWD, the Marin Water District and the Sonoma County Water Agency, the program discusses local water issues and ways you can save water at home.

The CCWD segment includes a portion on Los Vaqueros, what's involved with a CCWD home water survey, and living with a drought resistant front and back yard.

So take a look at the CCWD section below, or see the entire half hour show when it airs again:

Here's the schedule for the remaining showings:

Friday, July 10: 11 a.m.
Sunday, July 12: 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 19: 3 p.m.
Saturday, July 25: 11 a.m.
Sunday, September 13 9 p.m. (post NFL game)

Keep An Eye On Your Irrigation Timer

One of our home water surveyors says she's noticing a trend in many homes that have gardeners taking care of the maintenance of the yard.

The gardeners are putting too much water on the lawn.

She said one home with a very large yard had the timers for the lawns set for three 12-minute cycles, every night of the week. With multiple stations, this home was wasting thousands of gallons of water every week.

With pop-up spray sprinklers, CCWD recommends that at the height of summer -- July when sunny days are longest and temperatures the hottest -- that the most you water a lawn is four days per week and three cycles of six-minutes per cycle. We recommend you start your cycles at around three or 4 a.m. and stop watering by 8 a.m. when evaporation and windy weather can literally steal the water you intended for your lawn, trees and shrubs.

That will keep your lawn alive, encourage deep root growth, save water and keep you closer to your water budget.

So have a conversation with your gardener and check your timer to make sure you're not wasting water.

The Cost of Leaky Faucets

A National Geographic publication titled "Water for Tomorrow" estimates that leaky faucets are costing American households more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year.

If you have a leaky faucet that loses 60 drops of water per minute, you'll waste nearly 6.4 gallons of water per day or 192 gallons of water per month. That could be enough to send you over your water budget.

Water Conservation Kiosks At New Locations

We moved our Water Conservation Information kiosks to new locations. You can now see them at the Ygnacio Valley and Pittsburg libraries. Ask us a question, and we'll send you the answer via e-mail.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Water Saving Ideas That Work From Our Customers

We've asked our customers for some of their water saving ideas, and have been impressed by what we've seen so far.

Let us know how you're saving water, and we'll spread the word.


"We have cut down our water use by 50 percent. We replaced our entire lawn with drought tolerant plants. We flush all toilets with water collected from showers. We replace bed linen less often, take shorter showers and reuse dish water to irrigate some plants. We collect rain water. Cover the pool to reduce evaporation and stress plants so they become less water dependent.

"We feel passionately about conserving water all the time, not only in drought years."

Ilana...Walnut Creek


1. Heavily mulched all gardens
2. Collecting rinse water from washing machine to use in garden.
3. Collecting rinse water from kitchen & bathroom sinks.
4. Collecting water from shower until warm water starts flowing.
5. When working in yard, shower off with hose to cool down, clean up and water grass.
6. Only flush toilets when solid material present.
7. Fix leaks in sprinkler system and adjust sprinkler heads so no water goes on sidewalk.
8. Cut back lawn and garden watering to minimum required to keep plants alive.
9. Shut of water in shower and in sinks when soaping up. Never let it run.
10. Used CCWD Smart Car Wash coupons to have car washed instead of washing the cars myself.

"The coupons worked fine. The attendant recognized the coupon and the process was smooth. I’ve made additional copies of the coupon so that I can go to that car wash on a regular basis in the future."



"The biggest way we've saved water is by detecting and fixing a faulty timer on our irrigation system. CCWD was very helpful in ruling out a leak on its' end, thanks. Also, we have your shower timers in every bathroom, and we are all getting good at limiting scrub-downs to four minutes.

"We've actually reduced our usage by half since last year according to our bill (mostly because of fixing the irrigation timer).

"My husband and I paid closer attention to how our sprinklers were running and discovered a solenoid valve was running for hours instead of the mere minutes we'd programmed. Since we replaced the faulty valve and wiring our sprinklers shut off like they're supposed to and there's no more puddles in the street.

"Since responsible irrigators time their irrigation in the very early morning, we are not always awake to notice problems like this. It might be worth reminding customers to check on their systems during real-time runs to make sure problems don't go undetected for months (as ours unfortunately did). We only figured this out by getting up at 3-4 a.m. to check!

Jennifer...Walnut Creek

We have more correspondence from our customers and we'll publish them in the next installment of the blog, and we'll put them on our website at

Watch "Water Matters" on NBC 11

We're excited about a television show that will be aired locally on saving water.

"Water Matters" was shot here in the Bay Area and features a number of local water districts, including CCWD.

The show not only discusses our water situation, but also many ways to save water, including visits to local homes where there have been dramatic water savings.

Here are the air times:

Thursday, July 9 11 a.m.
Friday, July 10 11 a.m.
Sunday, July 12 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 19 3 p.m.
Saturday, July 25 11 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 13 9 p.m.


Secrets of Irrigating Unveiled

CCWD Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle will speak to the Clayton Valley Garden Club Wednesday, July 8 at Diamond Terrace Retirement Community in Clayton at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited.

Bob will talk about the secrets of irrigating gardens successfully in Contra Costa County.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Want Your Water-Saving Ideas

We Want Your Water Saving Ideas

With CCWD’s Drought Management Plan nearly two months old, most of our customers are saving water….thank you and keep up the good work.

Our question is: how have you done it? We want to tell those who are having trouble what our successful customers are doing. So let us know if you’ve cut back on your outside watering, are taking shorter showers, did you buy a new high-efficiency clothes washer? Let us know what works. We’ll spread your knowledge and help others save. Send an e-mail or call (925) 688-8175.

Wait for Home Water Surveys Shorter Now

One of our most popular and useful services is the free Home Water Use Survey, where one of our water-saving experts will come to your home and show you how to save water.We’ve been offering these free surveys for more than 10 years. When the Drought Management Program was first announced in the spring, many people signed up and we had a long waiting list. We’ve worked our way through the list, and now the wait is much more manageable. Even if you had a survey a few years ago, and feel you might need a refresher, we’ll be happy to come back to your home and fine tune your water saving efforts. This is what we’ll do in the free survey

* Provide useful conservation tips to help you meet your Drought Management Program goals.

* Inspect irrigation stations, and provide a checklist of suggested improvements.

Provide irrigation scheduling information to assist you with programming your timer.

Check for signs of leaks

Demonstrate how to read your water meter and use it to monitor your use.

Provide high-efficiency showerheads and kitchen faucet aerators, if needed.

This free service is offered to residential customers in the CCWD service area.

. Sign up for a FREE Home Water Use Survey online. We'll call you to schedule a date.

Our New Water Calculator Helps Fine Tune Your Water Savings

If you’ve had a home water survey done, you know exactly how much water each of your irrigation systems uses per minute. Now, you can easily use that information – and our new online calculator – to fine tune your watering schedule, and know exactly how much water you’re saving.

Just enter the figures, and we’ll do the math instantly. You can make adjustments, and see how those ideas affect your water use.

More, More, More 'Mulch, Mulch, Mulch' Coupons

Last month, we introduced our “Mulch, Mulch, Mulch” program, in which you can print a coupon to get a discount on the price of mulch, which will save a lot of water in your garden.

Since then, we’ve added seven new locations and even better coupons, including Orchard Supply Hardware’s three stores within the District, four local Navlet’s centers and Village Nurseries in Brentwood. We’ve got coupons that will give you substantial discounts, whether you’re buying mulch in bulk or in bags.

Our Smart Car Wash discount program continues as well. You can use these coupons as often as you like to save money and water.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

See Our New Water Conservation Kiosks at Local Libraries

We have new water conservation kiosks touring local libraries this summer.

Now when you look for new books, you can also stop by our blue kiosk and pick up some water saving tips, take a quiz about water-themed movies, even ask a question online or sign up for a home water survey.

The kiosk are at the libraries in Antioch and Pleasant Hill this week and next, and will then head out to other libraries. We'll let you know where they're at. So please look for the kiosks and give them a test drive. Do you know how the James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" is related to water?

In the photo, a library patron seeks water saving answers at our new kiosk at the Antioch Library.

Set Your Lawn Mower Higher, Save Water

As the weather is getting warmer, remember lawns are water guzzlers. Lawns are generally the single biggest water user for a typical property — offering the greatest potential for water savings.

If you have good reasons to keep your lawn, remember we all must reduce our water use. Here are some simple maintenance practices that will help it survive drought.

  • Mow lawns 2½ to 3 inches high. Taller blades promote deeper roots and provide shade for soil.

  • Adjust your watering schedule by reducing the number of watering days per week and make sure you are only watering early in the morning, between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.

  • Trim grass adjacent to sprinkler head to ensure the sprinkler is not blocked.

  • Check your sprinkler heads on a regular basis to ensure they are not watering the sidewalk or fence.

  • Share Your Water-Saving Secrets

    It's been nearly two months since CCWD started the Drought Management Program, and while we don't have all the figures in yet, it looks like people are saving quite a bit of water. Thank you.

    We want to know how you are doing it, and want to share your knowledge with others.

    We know many customers are putting a bucket in their shower, to collect cold water in the morning, and then using the water in the bucket for your plants. We also know that many of you have cut back your irrigation timers, and are watering in the early morning before it gets hot to ensure the water soaks into the ground.

    But maybe you've come up with a new idea, or a twist on an old one.

    Let us know, and we'll let our customers know here in the blog, tweets and on the web. Send Us An E-Mail With Your Idea or call (925) 688-8175.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Don't Overreact Outside Now That It's Warming Up

    The temperatures in eastern and central Contra Costa County are expected to warm up to normal for this time of year...but summer weather is not the time to pour a lot of water on your garden.

    Even though it's warming up, don't go crazy and put extra water on your plants and lawn. We're still in a drought, and for most people most savings will come from watering their yards wisely and frugally.

    Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle says the important thing is to stick to your schedule of watering early in the morning and for short cycles. Your lawn and plants will be fine in the warmer weather. "Don't overreact," warns Bob.

    If you've been watering early and in short cycles, Bob said your plants and lawn will have developed the deep roots needed to stay healthy for the sunny weather. If you haven't been following these practices, it's a good time to start.

    For more information on landscape irrigating, please look here. If you need a quick guide, we have 10 helpful tips here.

    Some Folks Are Slipping On Following Water Rules

    Our Water Surveyors are starting to see more instances of people forgetting the "Prohibited Uses of Water" during the District's Drought Management Program.

    You can't wash your driveways, sidewalks and parkways with water, use a broom instead.

    You also can't have excessive flooding or runoff of water. Keep sprinklers pointed in the right direction, don't over water.

    If you're washing your car, trailer or boat, you must have a hose with with a shut off nozzle attached.

    Look for the complete list of prohibited uses of water here.

    See Water Waste? Call Our Water Savings Team at (925) 688-8044

    If you suspect water waste in your neighborhood, call our CCWD Water Savings Team at (925) 688-8044 or send us an e-mail at

    Make sure to let us know what's happening, where , what time it's happening, and any other details that may help us solve the problem.

    We've received hundreds of calls since the team was formed earlier this year, and we check up on each call. We talk to the people involved, and in most cases all it takes is a little education and the problem is solved.

    Drought Management Program In Four Languages

    We have now printed the Drought Management Program in four different languages: Spanish, Farsi, Tagalog and Chinese. Look here to download them.

    Conservation Tip for June: Raise the lawn mowing height to 2-1/2” – 3”. This keeps lawns looking better all summer and saves water.

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    CCWD GM To Talk About Water At Commonwealth Club

    CCWD General Manager Walther J. Bishop will be one of four speakers at a Commonwealth Club presentation titled "California Parched: The Future of Water Policy in California" on June 25 in Lafayette.

    Mr. Bishop will be joined by: Charles Hoppin, Chairman, State Water Resources Control Board; Richard Howitt, Professor and Department Chair, Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; and Mark Schlosberg, California Director, Food & Water Watch.

    Mike Taugher, Environmental Reporter for the Contra Costa Times, will be the moderator.

    Mr. Bishop has been the General Manager of the Contra Costa Water District since 1992.

    He is well known for his active leadership role in state and national water issues. At a national level, he has served an important role in shaping drinking water policy. He currently is a member of American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Water Utility Council, International Council and Strategic Planning Committee. In 2004, he was elected Chair of the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AwwaRF), the largest research organization dedicated to drinking water. He served on the AWWA Board of Directors and Executive Committee during his three-year term as the AwwaRF Chair.

    He has been a two-term member of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council, which is chartered by Congress to advise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on national drinking water policy. Mr. Bishop formed and then chaired the Leadership Center at the University of North Carolina School of Business for five years.


    Look up local city information on drought plans

    Some of the cities within the Contra Costa Water District have started their own water conservation plans. If you live in one of these cities, take a look to make sure you understand the water savings goals you're expected to meet.

    City of Martinez

    City of Pittsburg

    City of Antioch

    Diablo Water District

    Golden State Water Company (Bay Point)


    Mulching Essential To Saving Water Outside

    Mulching is essential to the survival of your landscape during a drought. Mulch will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil, greatly reducing your need to water your plants. Mulch also provides nutrients to sandy soil and improves its ability to hold water.

    Roots like mulch. Mulch acts as an insulating layer on top of soil, keeping it cooler in the summer.

    Gardeners like mulch. Mulch keeps weeds down, and the weeds that do grow are much easier to pull.

    CCWD has introduced a mulch program providing coupons to save on mulch purchases from local nurseries and landscape material suppliers. Select a mulch supplier from our Web site,, print out a coupon and save on your next mulch purchase!

    For more drought survival tips, go to or check with your local water provider. For questions on the drought management program or your water allocation call the drought help line at 925-688-8009.


    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Stop By The Green Fest Saturday

    CCWD's water conservation experts will be at the CCCAR Green Fest at Heather Farms on Saturday, June 13.

    There will be a 5K run in the morning, and then a community festival. Please stop by our booth and ask any questions you have about conserving water and CCWD's Water Management Program. You can also pick up a free shower timer.

    Here's a link to the event:

    Our Water Meter Video Proves Popular

    You never know what to expect when you post a video on You Tube. But when we posted our video on "How To Read Your Water Meter" about a month ago, we hoped a few people would find it helpful.

    Well, the three-minute video featuring Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle has now been seen by more than 600 people.

    That's more attention than we expected.

    Hopefully the video, and our online water use calculator, helps you determine your water use in real time.

    Local Websites That Can Help You With Your Water Conservation Plan

    CCWD water is served to more than 550,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County.

    If you live in a city that distributes water and bills you through the city, you may have a different conservation plan than CCWD's. Here are links to the cities that have their own versions of the water conservation plan. Wherever you live, the idea is the same: "Save Water & Beat The Drought."

    City of Martinez

    City of Pittsburg

    City of Antioch

    Diablo Water District

    Golden State Water Company (Bay Point)

    Want Even More Water Conservation Information?

    The state has developed a neat website called "Save Our H2O." If you enjoy baseball, you'll get a kick out of a water conservation video with former Giants Manager Dusty Baker. There is also a neat water use calculator that can show you where you're using water.

    Also, you can follow CCWD on "Twitter" We update it nearly everyday.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Some Good Tips To Save Water

    Here are a few actions you can take to meet the goal of CCWD's Drought Management Program.

    # Reduce the number of lawn and landscape watering days per week. Landscape irrigation accounts for more than half of most residential customers use.

    # Mulch your shrub areas and deep-soak them monthly only. Get discounts on mulch through our Mulch, Mulch, Mulch program,.

    # Replace inefficient fixtures such as toilets, washers and showerheads. Check for rebates at

    # Stress your lawn areas. Lawns use the most water and are the easiest to come back.

    To receive current drought information sign up for the CCWD Conservation E-Newsletter. For questions on water conservation programs, in-home surveys and rebates call 925-688-8320. For questions on your water allocation call the drought help line at 925-688-8009

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    Get Your Free Shower Timers

    Get Your Free Shower Timer
    We now have free and nifty four-minute shower timers. They’re small, colorful and stick to your shower door. You have no excuse for taking a long water-wasting shower now.

    You can pick them up at our offices at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

    We’ll also have them at the CCWD booth at the "Emergency Preparedness Fair at the LDS Church in Pleasant Hill (555 Boyd Road) Saturday, May 30 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the “Fit Fest Health Fair” Saturday, June 6th at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

    Sunset Magazine Cites CCWD Website

    Sunset Magazine's online "Kick the Water Habit" cites CCWD's Conservation website as one of nine sites for reliable information on water conservation. "This site, based in Northern California, is packed with stealable ideas on conservation, landscape design, and maintenance,” stated Sunset.

    We loved the pat on the back and the Sunset article has all kinds of useful information on ways to save water.

    Many, Many More High Efficiency Toilets

    Participation in the District’s High Efficiency Toilet Rebate Program has nearly tripled this year. In fiscal year 2008, the District provided 683 toilet rebates to single family customers. Thus far in fiscal year 2009, the District has processed nearly 1,900 rebates. The program is helping customers meet their drought reduction goals – toilets are the single largest user of water inside most homes – and the new high-efficiency toilets will save water for decades to come.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Mulch Coupons Will Help You Save Water & Money: Watch For Misting Sprinklers

    We have another water-saving coupon offer available, this one called "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch"

    This gives discounts of between 5 and 10 percent on purchases of mulch from seven local landscape companies.

    Mulch is one of the easiest and most-effective ways to save water in your landscaping, it will also reduce weed growth. Read more about mulch in our Mulch 101 brochure.


    Our "Smart Wash Car Wash" program has three more local car washes signed up.

    That brings the total to 11 local car washes that recycle water, and give you a discount ranging from $1 to more than $7.


    If your sprinklers cause excessive misting, there is a good chance your water pressure is too high. This wastes water, and plants don't get the water they need. There are several ways to correct the problem.

    If the entire sprinkler system has high pressure, a single pressure regulator can fix the problem.

    Alternatively, pressure-regulating sprinkler heads or pressure-compensating nozzles will remedy the problem for each individual sprinkler.

    Talk to the folks at your local hardware store about pressure regulators, pressure-regulating sprinkler heads or pressure-compensating nozzles. In many cases, you can add pressure control discs to your existing nozzles.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Water Conservation -- & Free Shower Timers -- At CCWD Booth At Kidfest

    If you're staying in town this weekend, one "staycation" place to visit is KidFest in Concord's Todos Santos Plaza in downtown.

    There are lots of booths, lots of music, food and the whole thing is geared for kids.

    CCWD is a co-sponsor of this event, and we're using the opportunity to talk about water conservation. We'll have our water publications and experts on hand who can answer your questions about saving water.

    You can also pick up one of our new free shower timers that will help you limit the amount of time you spend in the shower. These rugged timers are set for four minutes and stick onto the shower door or tile.

    We'll see you there.

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    CCTimes Produces Impressive "Managing Our Water" Special Section

    The Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury produced an impressive special section all about regional water issues titled "Managing Our Water" on Sunday.

    The section tells the story of water in California, including lots of resources for saving water and beating the drought.

    You can read nearly all the stories in the special sections below:

    California's Broken System For Water Delivery

    San Francisco, Other Cities That Draw Water From Hetch Hetchy in Better Shape

    Water Shortage: Bay Area Faces First Drought in Nearly 20 Years

    Getting Your Water Use Under Control

    How to Find Enthusiasm In Drought Time Gardening

    With Little Water Coming in, Small Towns Face Extinction

    Silicon Valley Stores Water in Vast Bank

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Eliminate Overspray From Lawn Sprinklers

    This week's Water Wise Tip looks at eliminating overspray from your lawn sprinklers at home.

    # Check sprinklers for overspray onto adjacent pavement, walls, fences, decks and homes.

    # Overspray will waste a lot of water and can cause severe property damage.

    # One of the primary reasons homeowners replace fences is because of rotting fence posts. This rotting is primarily a result of the post's repeatedly getting wet and dry from sprinklers.

    # You can save water and increase the life of your fence and other structures by eliminating overspray.

    For more drought survival tips, go to or to schedule a free home water use efficiency evaluation, call 925-688-8320. For questions on the drought management program or your water allocation, call the drought help line at 925-688-8009 or contact your water provider.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Nice Story on Drought-Tolerant Gardening

    There's a nice story in the San Francisco Chronicle today on drought-tolerant gardening.

    The surprise is there are some cantaloupe varieties (the Bush Star, an F-1 hybrid) that don't need a lot of water, are good to eat and grow quickly.

    Here are some tips from the story:

    -- Space your plants farther apart than suggested to give the roots more space to search for water.

    -- Plant cool-season crops or crops that prefer a good watering in sunken beds that gather water. This will also create a cooler microclimate.

    -- Mulching with flat stones will also help keep the ground cooler and wetter while absorbing heat to be released at night thereby moderating the microclimate.

    -- Plant your veggie patch in a place sheltered from prevailing winds. You can also contour your beds to direct water flow and to prevent it from escaping.

    -- Deeper, infrequent watering will help edibles to develop deeper root systems that will further help them tolerate drought. Consider a rain barrel to collect extra water for irrigation in dry times. You can also recycle your gray water.

    -- Allow plants that root on the stems like squash and tomatoes to sprawl on the ground, further increasing their ability to mine water.

    -- Gardening in the shade of trees or large shrubs is an excellent way to save water.

    CCWD has put together a nice guide that will help you

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    New Car Wash Coupons Save Water & Money

    We've started a neat new program that will help you save water and money when you wash your car.

    We have a list of eight local car washes that recycle the water they use.

    Print out a coupon, take it with you to the car wash and present it when you pay. You can save a little bit of money (ranging from $1 to more than $5) while saving water and keeping your car clean.

    Most people who wash their cars at home use about 100 gallons of water, these car washes will use less than 30.

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    Keep Those Sprinklers Turned Off For At Least A Week

    With this weekend's rain, and a little more forecast for tonight and tomorrow, remember to turn off your irrigation sprinkler system.

    Between 1/3-inch and up to one inch of spring rain has been recorded so far within CCWD boundaries during the past three days, and that's more than enough precipitation to help you save water by turning off your automatic sprinklers.

    Water Conservation Supervisor Chris Dundon said the unseasonable moisture was enough to keep sprinklers off for at least a week, depending on how much of the expected sunshine follows this storm. "This rainstorm will help you start saving water for the Drought Management Program if you just turn off the sprinklers for awhile."

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    "Bringing Back the Natives" This Sunday

    CCWD is a long-time sponsor of the award-winning "Bringing Back the Natives" tour of local gardens that use native plants to save water and have a beautiful garden.

    More than 50 gardens located throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties will be showcased on this tour, which will take place on Sunday, May 3.

    In addition as part of the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, a number of native plant nurseries—most not normally open to the public—will be open on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday May 3, from 10 to 5. Take advantage of this opportunity to shop for unique or hard-to-find native plants that are not normally available in most nurseries! You do not need to register for the Tour in order to shop at these nurseries on the weekend of the extravaganza.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Drought Management Program Begins May 1

    Contra Costa Water District Meter Readers will be working long hours and through the weekend starting May 1 as part of the District’s Drought Management Program.

    The Drought Management Program begins on the first day of May.

    So that all CCWD customers will start the water-saving program at the same time, more than 60,000 water meters will be read during the first week of May.

    Meter readers will be seen in neighborhoods on Saturdays and Sundays, and much earlier and later in the day than normal. All meter readers will be wearing orange CCWD shirts and safety vests and will be carrying their CCWD identification card.

    Though meters will be read to establish the starting point for the Drought Program, customers will receive their water bills at close to their normal time frames. The bills will explain charges under the Drought Management Program and under normal billing.

    Have a question?Please send an email or call the CCWD Drought Center at (925) 688-8009.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Tips From Our Customers For Saving Water

    With California suffering from drought conditions, the Contra Costa Water District offers weekly tips on using water wisely.

    CCWD has had its water supply reduced by its supplier, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. CCWD has planned for a reduction and has secured additional water to make up most of the reduction, however, to meet the full reduction, CCWD is asking its customers to reduce until further notice.

    Residential customers are asked to reduce water use compared to their historical use. CCWD recently sent a letter to all customers showing their individual water budgets to meet the reduction goal.

    We have received great suggestions from many customers on how to reduce. Here are just a few:

    # Water one less day than normal.

    # Reduce the number of minutes on the irrigation schedule by 15 percent.

    # Cut the water on a lawn that needs to be replaced by adding drought-tolerant plants.

    # Replace that old water-guzzling toilet with a new high-efficiency toilet. (CCWD and other water providers have rebates.)

    # Install a high-efficiency shower head (CCWD has free shower heads, just stop by our office at 1331 Concord Ave. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.).

    # Read your water meter every few weeks to monitor usage. CCWD has a tip sheet for this, where we do the math, and a video as well.

    For more conservation information and drought survival tips, visit

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Lots of Great Ideas on Saving Water With Your Lawn

    Lawns are generally the single biggest water user for a typical property — offering the greatest potential for water savings.

    If the only time you walk on your lawn is to mow, consider eliminating turf areas and plan a new landscape with permeable materials and native plants. CCWD has a CD available for District customers for your computer that will help you find attractive water-saving plants. You can order it here, it's free.

    If you have good reasons to keep your lawn, remember we all must reduce our water use. Your lawn may not look its best this year, but here are some simple maintenance practices that will help it survive drought.

    # Mow lawns 2½ to 3 inches high. Taller blades promote deeper roots and provide shade for soil.

    # Don't fertilize. Actively growing plants need more water, and fertilizers can damage already stressed root systems.

    # Trim grass adjacent to sprinkler head to ensure the sprinkler is not blocked.

    # Reduce the watering schedule and make sure you are only watering early in the morning (between 3 and 8 a.m.).

    For more drought survival tips, go to or to schedule a free home water use efficiency evaluation, call 925-688-8320. For questions on the drought management program or your water allocation, call the drought help line at 925-688-8009. Those living outside the district should call their water provider for information and assistance.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Meet us at the John Muir Earth Day Celebration Saturday

    CCWD will have a water conservation booth at the John Muir Birthday -Earth Day Celebration in Martinez Saturday, April 18.

    Be sure to stop by our booth, and say hello. Also, feel free to ask any questions about water conservation, our drought management plan and more. Be sure to mention you read about it in the blog!

    The celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John Muir National Historic Site, located at 4202 Alhambra Ave. in Martinez.

    This is a fun day, with lots of neat things to see and do. Read more about it here.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Lots of Good Ideas On Saving Water in CC Times

    The Contra Costa Times ran an informative article with lots of good ideas on saving water in the home.

    You can read it here:

    CCWD offers rebates on new high efficiency toilets and clothes washers
    and you can pick up free low-flow showerheads at CCWD's Main Office at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord.

    April Water Saving Tip of the Month -- Aerate

    April is a good month to aerate your lawn. Aerating reduces soil compaction, allows air, water, and fertilizer to get to the roots; producing a healthy lawn, and improving water use efficiency.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Brochures on Drought Information Now Available

    Brochures with more details on CCWD's Drought Management Program are now available online.

    These brochures will be sent in the mail this week to CCWD customers in an envelope with a red note on it that states: "Drought Information."

    In addition to the brochures, there will be individual information on historical water use for each of the six billing periods during the year, and the water budget.

    The brochures are specific to the following rate classes:

    Single Family Residential

    Multi-Family Residential


    An additional brochure for irrigation customers will be available, and I'll post it when it's complete.

    Many have asked about the exceptions form. This PDF is available now, we expect to have an online version this week.

    Remember, the program does not start until May 1.

    Please write if you have any questions, or if I can be of any further service.

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Drought Management Program Starts May 1

    In yesterday's post, I inadvertantly published the wrong date for the start of CCWD's 15% Drought Management Program. 

    The program starts May 1. 

    See you at the Home and Garden Show this weekend at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord!

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    See us at the Home and Garden Show This Weekend!

    CCWD will have a booth at the Home and Garden Show this weekend at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord.

    We'll be there to answer all your questions about the saving water and the new 15% Drought Management Program that starts on May 1.

    Please stop by. We'll have all kinds of resources for you.

    I'll be there until about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, please mention you've been reading our blog and say hello.