Some high tech ways to conserve water

December 30, 2008 6:42:07 PM PST
The recent storms haven't done enough to replenish the water supply in Santa Clara County, so the county is asking for more voluntary conservation. Now some businesses are taking the extra step of installing new technology to save water.

"Roughly a million gallons we've saved so far this year," said Doubletree Hotel engineer Paul Bielinski.

Bielinski says it's due to this new satellite weathertrac watering system installed recently. a satellite image determines how much water the hotels landscaping needs by looking down at the region's weather pattern from space.

"If we have cloud cover, if the humidity is high, it will shut down our watering system for the day. If it clears up and the sun comes out it will boost our water up if it needs to," said Bielinski.

The hotel also installed dual action water saving toilets in all of its 500 rooms. Each flush saves about a gallon and a half of water.

"About 821,000 gallons of saving so far this year in water for the toilets," said Bielinski.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District hopes this type of conservation catches on soon, particularly among its 1.8 million customers in nine South Bay cities.

"Especially if we have another dry year. We already had two dry years and if 2009 is a dry year as well, it gets us in a difficult situation," said Susan Siravo from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

That situation could be mandatory rationing by March. The counties' 10 reservoirs are now at 45 percent of capacity. The district says that's enough to meet demand, but the outlook isn't good. Recent rains have not provided enough runoff to help fill the reservoirs.

The district had to move most of the water out of the Lexington Reservoir for some construction. Now that the construction is almost done they hope rainfall will soon fill the reservoir back up.

The Sierra snowpack counts for 50 percent of the county's supply, so more snow is essential.

The Delta's supply of water to the county has already been cut 30 percent to protect the endangered delta smelt population. The district says customers need to voluntarily conserve 10 percent. so far they've only cut back seven percent.


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