San Ramon embracing 'golden' lawns to save water

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Monday, June 30, 2014
San Ramon embracing 'golden' lawns to save water
EMBED <>More Videos

Many residents in the Pleasanton-San Ramon area are embracing "golden" lawns, but there are others who are not.

DUBLIN, Calif. (KGO) -- We're heading into the hottest months of the summer and water usage in the Bay Area, or cutting back on it, will be key. In some parts of the East Bay, residents are doing a lot to conserve, but it still may not be enough. Those barely conserving or not doing their part could face stiff fines or worse.

In Dublin, they're calling it "golden" -- the color of the lawns that is, and rather than being an embarrassment, it's almost like of a badge of honor in these drought-plagued neighborhoods.

"We cut back on water because they told us to," Dublin resident Mary Collins said.

Collins is among the many here who've cut back on their outside watering dramatically.

"We kind of pride ourselves on not wasting water, and so to be told we have to let our grass die and things, is a little bit hard to take," Collins said.

Some neighbors even have signs firmly planted in their sea of brown, explaining why their law might not look so good.

For those who are clearly wasting water, based on their meter readings, there is now a set of fines and penalties in place. One homeowner received a letter informing him that his weekly water usage is more than twice the average of 2,000 gallons per household. In Dublin-San Ramon accounts that use more than 640 gallons per day have been flagged.

"We're starting to see a lot of people finally taking some steps to cut water usage and that's a really good thing, but we have a small subset of the population that is still using way too much water. And those are the folks that we're working on," Dan Gallagher, from the Dublin-San Ramon Services District, said.

First there's a warning, then a $250 fine for a second violation, then $500 up to $1,000. After that, those who use excessive amounts of water could see their water supply restricted or disconnected.

However, there is an option for those who want to give their lawns and plants at least a fighting chance. Dublin-San Ramon has a recycled water station where residents came come get as much as they need six days a week for free.

"I'm going to keep the lawn alive. I was letting go with the drought, but with this recycled water program, I'm able to flood it out and keep it alive for the kids and the animals," Dublin resident Darren Steele said.

So the neighbors don't get upset with those who have a green lawn, instead of golden, the district is handing out signs explaining that the water used for their yards is recycled.