SF County customers save water, but water bill may still go up

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
The San Francisco PUC says it has about two years worth of reserves, but water rates could still go up.

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) -- Hetch Hetchy customers have already met their conservation goals two months ahead of schedule, saving eight billion gallons of water since January.

The announcement by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was made at a Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica.

"We're saving about 15,000 gallons a day right here, that's about 5.5 million gallons of drinking water per year," said Phil Ginsburgh with San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Sharp Park is owned by the City of San Francisco and is now irrigated using recycled water, instead of Hetch Hetchy water. The waste water is treated at the Calera Creek Water Recycling Plant in Pacifica.

Two other golf courses near Lake Merced also use reclaimed water.

The Recreation and Park Department is the city's main consumer of water, but this year it has reduced it's overall water consumption by 15 percent.

"When you see water where you shouldn't, you have to keep in mind that some of our irrigation systems are more than 100 years old," he explained. It will take more money and time to upgrade the system to make it more efficient.

The drought is on everyone's mind. The San Francisco Public Utilities announced it has met it's 10 percent voluntary conservation goal for the year. In fact, the PUC says it has about two years worth of reserves.

"However, if we don't receive any more rain, we are going to have to be more strict and maybe go higher than 10 percent, and not voluntary but mandatory," explained Harlan Kelly with the PUC.

A mandatory 20 percent conversation rate would have an impact on the PUC's budget because fewer people would be paying for water. That means rates could go higher.

Meantime, the state drought has increased the risk of floods. The California Department of Water Resources manages and protects California's waters. It has been training personnel throughout the state to react quickly to flash floods.