Monday, November 29, 2010

Hurry! Web Coupons To Expire! Wash Your Car, Buy Your Mulch!

Time is quickly running out on our two web coupon programs.

Our Smart Wash Car Wash and Mulch, Mulch, Mulch programs both end on Nov. 30.

That doesn't give you much time to use these money & water-saving coupons, but you can still use them until Dec. 1.

In the Smart Car Wash program, you can save money and water by using these coupons to save money with car washes that recycle water.

Everyone knows that mulch saves water and also cuts down on weeds in your stock up on mulch tomorrow and save money!

Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

We have all kinds of hints and tips to keep your pipes from freezing in the very cold weather. Just look here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cut Back Your Watering Days in October

The exceedingly hot weather of the last few days is expected to ease to comfortable temperatures by the weekend.

If you've been following our watering guide, your lawn, trees and most plants should be in great shape after the near-record heat. The only exception may be your shallow-rooted plants --like ground cover and perennials -- so check to see if they need any additional moisture.

Even though it's been sweaty-hot, do not hesitate to fall into savings and cut back your watering schedule on Oct. 1 to two days per week for lawns and one day per week for trees and shrubs.

Check our guide for the details.

Classes -- Plant Sale -- Coming Up Oct. 9

There will be class on caring for succulents, and the annual plant sale, coming up on Oct. 9 at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Both will be held on Oct. 9

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's September, You Can Cut Back Your Sprinkler Timers

CCWD recommends cutting back watering times on your sprinklers in September.

We suggest watering your lawn three days a week, and your trees, shrubs and groundcover only one to two days per week. Look to our guide for the particulars on operating different types of sprinklers.

Even though it can still get plenty hot in Contra Costa County in September, the days are noticeably getting shorter and the sun is at a lower angle. That means less sunlight and your plants will need less water.

Remove Your Lawn Class in September

Lawn Removal, with Kat Weiss will be held at the Ruth Bancroft Garden on Saturday, Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Learn how to remove and replace your lawn in this informative and hands-on workshop. CCWD is a co-sponsor of these classes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Save Water With Greywater & Drought Resistant Plants

Here are two ways to continue saving water: establish a greywater system to irrigate your garden, and plant more drought resistant plants in your yard.

A Berkeley group called "Greywater Action" is holding a class on using greywater from your shower on Saturday, Aug. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The class will include a hands on demonstration that will install a greywater system at a home in Berkeley.

There is a fee, but it slides depending on your ability to pay.

Over in Richmond, the Watershed Nursery is having a large sale on a wide-variety of drought- resistant plants. The sale lasts a week and starts on Monday, Aug. 23.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August's Shorter Days Mean You Can Cut Watering For Trees & Shrubs

July and August are the times of the year of highest water demand for your plants.

But in August, the days are starting to get shorter. That means less sun on your yard, so you can use less water and still keep everything green.

For your automatic sprinklers, CCWD recommends cutting back a day on your watering schedule for trees and shrubs. But you probably want to leave your lawn sprinklers about the same during this normally-hot month.

Temperatures have been much cooler than normal so far this summer, so maybe you can cut watering even more than our recommendations.

CCWD August Sprinkler Day Recommendations

Lawn: 3-4 times per week.

Shrubs 2 days per week.

Consult our water use guide for more specific watering information.

Now We Now Have Two Options for $175 High-Efficiency Toilet Rebates

We now have an instant $175 rebate when you buy a WaterSense-labeled High-Efficiency Toilet from one of our participating vendor, or you can get a mail-in $175 rebate when you buy a WaterSense Labeled High Efficiency Toilet for the vendor you choose.

Before you do anything, make sure you pre-qualify for the rebate. We may also need to do an inspection at your home. Call CCWD at 688-8320 or look here for more information.

Drought Tolerant Gardening Class Coming Up

A class on drought-tolerant gardening will be held Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bobbi Feyerabend, a well-known East Bay landscape architect, will discuss the basics of low-water gardening and cover appropriate plant choices, garden design, irrigation and maintenance. She will focus on Mediterranean plants.

These classes are co-sponsored by the Contra Costa Water District.

Look here for more information.

Don't Forget Our Money Saving Coupons for Mulch & Car Washes

It's a great time to save money and water with our "Smart Car Wash" and "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch" coupon programs.

Print these coupons, and save.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Classes At Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek

CCWD sponsors classes at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.

On Saturday, July 10, there will be "Botanical Illustrations" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Dorcas Moulton, a botanical illustration instructor at Merritt College. She will show you everything you need to know about sketching your favorite plants.

Also coming up is: "Drought Tolerant Gardening 101," with Bobbi Feyerabend on Saturday, Aug. 14 and "Lawn Removal" with Kat Weiss Saturday, Sept. 11.

Contact the Garden for more information on these classes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July is the Highest Water Month

July is often the month that our lawns and landscapes require the most water. Here are a few steps to make sure you make every drop count. A perfect time to do this is before you go on vacation.

Inspect each sprinkler head and look for broken, bent or blocked sprinkler heads or nozzles.
• Broken Sprinklers: Repair or replace immediately
• Bent or Sunken Sprinklers: Use a trowel to remove soil and adjust the head so it is plumb and spraying correctly. The head should pop up high enough to spray without being blocked by the plant material.
• Broken or clogged Sprinkler Nozzles: Replace these with the correct nozzle. It is a good idea to have several spare nozzles for easy replacement)

Turn on the drip system and walk through the garden looking and listening for breaks and broken emitters.
• Traditional Drip Systems: The most common repair needed for traditional half-inch poly pipe drip with pop in emitters is broken emitters. If you find one, simply use a pair of pliers to remove it and install a “goof plug”. The goof plug has two sizes so use the size that will completely fill the hole. You can then install a new emitter a few inches away from the goof plug.
• Quadra-Bubbler Drip: The most common repair needed for these types of drip systems is the spaghetti tubing comes out of the bubbler. If the tubing is brittle at the end, you may need to snip off an inch and re-insert it. Also, if the quadra-bubbler tip is broken, you will need to replace the whole quadra-bubbler.

The following is the recommended schedule for central and east Contra Costa County.
• Lawns: For pop-up spray sprinklers water three cycles for 3 to 6 minutes, 3 to 4 days per week.
• Trees, Shrubs, Groundcovers: For pop-up spray sprinklers water three cycles for 3 to 6 minutes, 2 to 3 days per week

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Plants' Watering Needs Change With the Seasons

As the seasons change, so do the needs of the plants and lawn in your yard.

During winter months, when days are short and usually wet, you don’t need to water you lawn, shrubs or trees at all.

During summer, when the days are long and there’s and not much rain, you need to water your yard. How much is enough to keep your grass green and healthy?

The Contra Costa Water District has a new handy guide appropriately called the “Lawn & Landscape Watering Schedule” that tells you exactly how much water you need. Most modern automated irrigation systems make it easy to change the settings each month, and the schedule guides you.

For example, in July water your lawn three or four days per week. If you have pop-up sprinklers, run three cycles of three to six minutes each, a few minutes longer if you have impact or rotor sprinklers. For trees, shrubs and groundcover, you need only two to three days per week. With pop-up sprinklers, run three cycles of three to six minutes each.

While your are on the page, sign up to get a water scheduling reminder through an e-mail each month.

Water Your Plants Early

What’s the best time of the day to water? Set your automatic sprinkler system to water between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. The sun is down, the temperature is cooler and the wind is usually calm. This allows the water to do the work you want it to, soak to the roots and nourish your plants.

If you’re watering during the day, up to 30 percent of the water your spraying is lost to evaporation.

Coupons Help You Save Water & Money

CCWD has water-saving coupons online for car washes, and buying mulch.

The car washes all recycle their water, and mulch is the best way to save water in your yard and prevent weed growth.

Look for the blue “Smart Car Wash” and brown “Mulch-Mulch-Mulch” buttons on, find the deals that most appeal to you, print out the coupon and you’ll start savings water right away.

Free Home Water Surveys

Have you had one of our free home water surveys? This is a great way to start saving water immediately.

One of our water conservation experts will do everything from measure how much water your sprinklers are using, to check for leaks in your toilet and tell you about our water saving rebates for washers and toilets.

It’s absolutely free, and you’ll start saving water before our expert leaves your home.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Page Is Resource For Grey Water, Rain Water Uses

We just put up a new resource page in the Conservation section of the CCWD web site that has resources for alternative ways to save water.

Many people are taking a second look at collecting grey water -- which is water from your washing machine or shower -- and using what is normally waste water to irrigate your yard.

In addition, though the Contra Costa climate is not ideal for it, many are also looking at "harvesting" rain water for their irrigation needs. If you collect rain water, you can use the water for your garden when skies are clear.

CCWD offers the new page only as a resource, and offers no rebates or incentives for these water-saving alternatives. But if you can manage these resources carefully, and watch your expenses, you can save some money and some water.

Home Water Surveys Are Free!

CCWD's free home water surveys will help you save water immediately.

Our trained water conservation experts will come to your home, and work with you inside and outside your house to show you how to save water.

They'll check your toilets for leaks, install water-saving devices on your kitchen sink, tell you how much water your irrigation system uses and tune the system so that your lawn, trees and plants will stay green...and a lot more.

Sign up online.

We'll Remind You To Change Your Sprinkler Timers

We have a new service that will send you an e-mail reminder each month on how much you should be watering your lawn, trees and shrubs.

For example, in June, we recommend:

Lawns & High Water Use Plants – 3 to 4 days per week

Trees, Shrubs, and Ground Covers - 2 days per week

This is the same schedule professional landscapers use to keep water and costs under control.

Sign up online.

Friday, May 28, 2010

See 47 Different Drought Tolerant Plants at CCWD's Garden

You can now identify 47 different types of drought-tolerant plants living and growing in CCWD's Demonstration Garden

Completed in 1991 and undergoing the final stages of a much-needed upgrade, CCWD's water-efficient District Center Garden 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.

Most recently, we've added labels and tags for all the plants found in the garden. In addition, there's a list of the plants on the signboard next to the entrance to the building. So if you like a particular type of plant, just check it off the list and take it to your nursery.

The garden is designed to show homeowners and businesses that by planting wisely, they can continue to have a beautiful landscape that uses very little water. You can see everything from the "Torch Lilly" to "Catherine's Lace" and "Bottlebrush Little John."

A path winds through the garden of natives, exotic shrubs and perennials. Plants were selected for their suitability to the local climate, soil and for low maintenance.

The garden is about an acre in size, and uses about half of the water of the expansive lawn it replaced in 1991....and doesn't need to be mowed every week!

The garden is located at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord near Buchanan Field.

Want to know more about native plants, look at our online guide to "Gardening in Contra Costa County."

Increase Sprinkler Days As Temps Go Up

It's hard to believe we are still receiving rain in late May, so turn on your sprinkler system once the rains have stopped. When you do turn your system on, program it for the following number of days per week during June:

  • Lawns & High Water Use Plants – 3 to 4 days per week

  • Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers - 2 days per week

For lawns and high water use plants, start out the month with 3 days per week once the soil isn’t saturated from recent rains. Increase from 3 days to 4 days per week if required as temperatures increase later in the month.

For more information on irrigation scheduling and water conservation programs, visit

Friday, May 14, 2010

Time to Think About Restarting Your Home Irrigation System

The late spring rains have kept the hills in Contra Costa County green, and have also been a blessing for home and business owners.

But the storms are finally tapering off and the long spring days mean it's time to look at restarting your automatic irrigation systems.

Before you do anything, check to make sure your system is working as it should and there no leaks, broken or plugged emitters. Also, make sure the emitters are all pointing in the right direction. Run them all briefly to make sure all is working correctly.

The next thing to do is to look at your soil and determine if it really needs water. Unless you know your yard very well, there is no easy to tell. The obvious is to look for muddy or wet spots on your lawn. If you have wet spots, you probably don't need to resume watering just yet.

One method many people have used for years is called the "screwdriver test" where you plunge a large screwdriver into your lawn. Depending on how much resistance you have, you'll know if you need to start watering again. If the screwdriver slides in pretty easily, you don't need to water. But if it's difficult, you should look into watering.

Of course, different types of plants and soil -- and how much sun your yard gets - will change the results of the test, so you'll have to use a lot of discretion. Even though it's not precise, this easy test will give you a clue as to how badly your yard needs water.

CCWD Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle said the water for irrigating the small lawns on the District's own Demonstration Garden was turned on for the first time this year last week, and this week the water will be turned on for the trees and some of the shrubs. He said he doesn't expect to need to turn on the sprinklers in some areas of the nearly one-acre garden until late June or even July.

In most cases, he said, it should be time to start irrigating most yards, especially those facing south.

When you do water, please follow our newly-updated guide. If you're one of those people who wants even more detail than we provide in our guide, look here and our "Gardening in Contra Costa County" site

In addition, sign up for our new e-mail watering reminder. Every month we'll remind you that its time to adjust your automatic sprinklers.

Cash For Appliances Still Going Strong

The state's "Cash for Appliances" program is generating a lot of interest in buying new washing machines....and there is still money available.

If you pick a high-efficiency washer that is on the state's approved list and CCWD's approved list, you can get both the CCWD Clothes Washer Rebate and the state rebate.

The new washer will help you save a lot of water.

Your salesperson can help you apply for both rebates, but you can check which machines qualify for the CCWD program here.

Here's the state's list.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earn Additional Savings If You're Buying A Clothes Washer

The state's "Cash for Appliances" program is generating a lot of interest in buying new washing machines.

If you pick a high-efficiency washer that is on the state's approved list and CCWD's approved list, you can get both the CCWD Clothes Washer Rebate and the state rebate.

That will result in a significant savings in money and water.

Your salesperson can help you apply for both rebates, but you can check which machines qualify for the CCWD program here.

Here's the state's list.

Save the Date, Garden Tour Set for May 2

Unsure how you want to make your yard or garden drought tolerant? Sunday, May 2 is the date of the "Bringing Back The Natives" garden tour in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

The free tour is a showcase of beautiful East Bay gardens. CCWD is a sponsor of this award-winning program.

Here's all the information

CCWD's New Water Conservation Program Begins May 1

CCWD's new 2010 Water Conservation Program will begin on May 1.

While the District encourages customers to continue to work to save water, the new program is less stringent than the Drought Management Program it replaces. Here's a guide to the program, which will penalize only the largest water wasters.

If you were approved for an exception during the past year, the exception is still in place.

Have a question? Send us an e-mail or call us at: (925) 688-8044.

Don't Forget Our Money Saving Coupons for Mulch & Car Washes

With spring weather arriving this weekend, it's a great time to save money and water with our "Smart Car Wash" and "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch" coupon programs.

Print out these coupons, and save.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CCWD Board Ends Drought Management Program

On April 7, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) Board of Directors held a public hearing and ended the 2009 Drought Management Program due to improved water supply conditions.

The program was replaced with the 2010 Conservation Program that will begin on May 1.

For CCWD customers, this means the water budgets and program goals are no longer in effect. The 2010 Conservation Program does not raise rates and eliminates the four-times Excess Use Charge.

“Though our water supply this year is sufficient to meet reasonable demand, issues in the Delta make delivery of our water supply less than certain. This new program encourages customers to use water efficiently and discourages wasteful use.” said CCWD General Manager, Walter J. Bishop.

Approximately five-percent of CCWD’s residential, irrigation and agricultural customers represent large water users that use in excess of 1,000 gallons per day. The new 2010 Conservation Program focuses on encouraging these large water users to become more efficient. Large water users will be subject to a two-times Excess Use Charge on increased usage over their historical water use. This charge applies to customers using over 1,000 gallons per day that increase their water use. The two-times charge is based on the cost of purchasing supplemental water to meet additional demand.

Under the 2009 program, CCWD customers responded by cutting their water use by 20-percent and are applauded for their commitment to conservation. For more details on the program, look to or call (925) 688-8041.

CCWD Co-Sponsors Classes At Ruth Bancroft Garden

CCWD is co-sponsoring a series of classes at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, starting Saturday with "Composting 101".

These are outstanding classes that will help you in the garden, and help you save water.

Free Passes to Home and Garden Show

The Home and Garden Show will be held April 9, 10 & 11, and you get in free by printing out these free passes. Be sure to stop by the CCWD booth to learn about ways to save water.

Don't Forget Our Water-Saving Coupons

Our popular "Smart Wash Car Wash" and "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch" coupons return.

All of the car washes recycle water, and mulch is the easiest way to save water in your garden.

Contact Us!

You can visit us on the web at or give us a call at 925 688-8044.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Car Wash and Mulch Coupons Save Money & Water

Water & Money Saving Coupons Return

Two of CCWD's popular water and money saving programs from last year have returned.

The Smart Wash Car Wash program -- which gives discounts at car washes that recycle water -- returns with coupons for 11 local car washes. Print the coupons, get your car washed, save money and water.

Our "Mulch, Mulch, Mulch" program also returns with coupons for garden centers throughout the East Bay. Mulch is the easiest way to save water in your garden, it also keeps weeds down.

It's all pretty easy.

Keep Sprinklers Turned Off Until Rains Pass

There's been no need to irrigate your yards the past few weeks, with continuing rain storms in the area.

So keep them off until the rain passess. In April, we recommend watering your lawns & high water use plants to days per week.

Trees, shrubs and groundcover only needs one day per week.
Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers - 1 day per week

Conservation Tip - This is a perfect time to inspect your sprinkler system for problems... and get them fixed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

CCWD Board To Consider 2010 Water Conservation Program

Please Continue to Conserve to Ensure Efficient Water Use

Good News! Precipitation from this season’s storms has replenished most reservoirs in the state and produced a snowpack that is slightly above average. The District expects an adequate supply of water to meet the reasonable needs of its customers.

While the state appears to be coming out of a three-year drought cycle, changing regulatory conditions make for uncertainty in Delta water supplies and delivery of water through the Delta system. Water conservation is still a priority.

At its March 17 meeting, the CCWD Board of Directors will review a proposed 2010 Water Conservation Program that is substantially relaxed compared to 2009. It could supersede the District’s 2009 Drought Management Program.

The goal of the proposed program is to encourage customers to continue using water efficiently and discourage waste.

For residential, irrigation and agricultural customers, this proposal will:

  • Encourage customers to continue conserving and not increase water use beyond their historical use (based on water use in the years 2005, ’06 and ’07).
  • Maintain an Excess Use Charge for customers using an unreasonable and wasteful amount of water.
    • Customers historically using 1,000 gallons per day or less will be subject to an Excess Use Charge should they increase their water use to more than 1,000 gallons per day.
    • Customers historically using more than 1,000 gallons of water per day will be subject to an Excess Use Charge for water use higher than their historical use.
    • The Excess Use Charge applies only to excess water used and will be billed at two times the quantity charge. See an example of water charges under the proposal.
  • If customers have a change in circumstances since the 2005-2007 historical base period (such as adding more people to their household), they may apply for an exception. Any exceptions to the program granted during 2009 or 2010, would remain in place under the proposed program.

Following the reading of the 2010 Water Conservation Program, the Board is expected to vote on the proposal at its April 7 meeting. If approved, the program would go into effect on May 1.

The existing Drought Management Program remains in effect.

If you have questions, please send an email or call (925) 688-8175

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Service Will Remind You To Change Sprinkler Timers

CCWD has introduced a free new e-mail service that will remind you when to change the times on your automatic sprinklers.

At different times of the year, CCWD recommends that you change your automatic sprinkler times for plants and lawn. For example, in January, February & March, the days are relatively short and there's usually enough rain that you don't need to water your lawn or your shrubs and trees.

But in April, we recommend that you water your lawn once a week, and your shrubs, trees and ground cover twice a week.

So the new service will remind you when it's a good time change, and also how long.

You can sign up here.

Save the Date, Garden Tour Set for May 2

Unsure how you want to make your yard or garden drought tolerant? Sunday, May 2 is the date of the "Bringing Back The Natives" garden tour in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

The free tour is a showcase of beautiful East Bay gardens. CCWD is a sponsor of this award-winning program.

Here's all the information

Water Savings Still Needed, Despite Storms
CCWD to Review its Water Supply and Drought Program on April 7

Contra Costa Water District customers have been very
successful at conserving water since the District started its
Drought Management Program last May. Over the past nine
months, customers have used about 17 percent less water than
they used during the same months in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The
District applauds this strong conservation effort and encourages
customers to continue saving water.

Water levels in the state’s reservoirs fell well below normal over the
past three dry years, and even ample amounts of snow and rain this
year might not be enough to completely replenish the reservoirs. No one
can predict how much more rain and snow will fall before the dry summer
months arrive, so the District is planning for the possibility of below-normal
water supplies.

At the Board of Directors meeting on April 7, the District’s water supply status will
be reviewed and a decision will be made on whether the District needs to continue,
modify or discontinue its existing Drought Management Program.

The meeting beginsat 6:30 p.m. in the District’s Board Room at 1331 Concord Avenue, Concord. The public is invited.

Until then, CCWD's Drought Management Program remains in effect.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learn About 'Harvesting' Rain Water

With all the rain we've had over the past week, the topic of "harvesting" or "saving" rainwater to use for irrigation in the spring and summer comes up.

While our local climate is not ideally suited to the idea, the experts will be in the Bay Area this month to discuss the topic and show you how to save rainwater for use when it's not so wet.

The classes are held by the "American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association" and you'll learn about systems that you can buy, or build.

Look here for more information.

What About Those Storms?

The recent wave of storms state-wide has brought much needed rain and snow as is normal for January, but three years of continued dry conditions have left the state’s reservoirs at a huge deficit.

2009 was the third consecutive year of drought conditions in
California and water supply in reservoirs remain below normal at this point.

We are only at the half-way point of the rain/snow season, we do not know what the rest of the season will provide and we need continued, well-above-normal storms to build up the snow pack and provide run-off to reservoirs.

Free Tours of CCWD Facilities

The Contra Costa Water District has a free program that allows customers to tour its water facilities.

The bus tours are educational outings for adults that include visits to a water treatment plant, an intake facility, the Los Vaqueros Reservoir and watershed.

The dates for the spring tours are April 16 and May 14. We will also have tours in the fall, so you can be placed on a waiting list.

CCWD customers over the age of 18 are invited to sign up for this tour of District facilities to learn about water quality issues and how CCWD diverts water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, stores it in the Los Vaqueros Reservoir, and conveys it in the Contra Costa Canal to a treatment plant in the service area.

The tours depart from the Concord District Center (1331 Concord Ave., Concord).

Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is no cost for CCWD customers but you must be over age 18 and sign-up individually. No group bookings, please. Lunch is included.

To sign-up send us an e-mail, and be sure to mention the tour or call (925) 688-8175