Residents push for Livermore to continue recycled water program

- Once homeowners get serious about using recycled water, weaning them off of it is tough.

An East Bay community that's had overwhelming response to its free recycled water program is calling it quits on Wednesday, at least until the spring; something that those using the program don't like.

Even a half hour before Livermore's recycled water station opened, people were lined up and ready to take the free water back to their lawns, gardens, landscaping and trees.

"We've spent thousands on our yards and our trees. And, by them doing this, it saved our yard and saved our trees," said Livermore resident Bill DuBoce.

But the free water faithful and miffed, because this service ends on the 30th.

"I've reduced my usage about 40 percent, because I could use the recycled water and I can save my trees and I can save my bushes," said Charlie Gabriel, another Livermore resident. 

"We've always said it's to supplement the portable water if you needed it to keep plants alive during the hottest summer months," said Helen Ling of the Livermore water reclamation plant.

She adds that state regulations and cost of providing attendants is more than Livermore wants to deal with. That now leaves customers with only precious potable drinking water for lawn and garden.

"And now that we're into the fall season, the days are growing shorter, the weather is going to be cooling off. And we felt that the 2 days a week of potable water irrigation should be sufficient," added Ling.

Water users are not so sure.

"It should be predicated on what the weather is, because there's gonna be some hot weather the rest of the month.  Let it go to November," said Gabriel. 

Despite the overwhelming popularity of  water refill stations everywhere they're offered, the simple fact is only a very few agencies throughout the state of California even offer it. Users say recycled water changed hearts and minds.

"I get plenty of water. It's free and I hate to see it dumped in the ocean, not being used," said Livermore resident Mike Cude. "Especially because we're not using this water and if the plants are OK and the grass is OK." 

"I think it's a great idea.  I think we should have it all year round when we can," added user Martha Perez.

"For the convenience of the people of Livermore, yeah.  If Pleasanton can do it, why can they? " asked Livermore resident Detroit Hamilton.

Other districts say they'll keep up the freebies, but, depending on demand, may shorten the number of days or hours they offer it.

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