Martinez resident concerned over water waste along median

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KTVU) - The drought has more and more people conscious of water wasters.

One case caught the attention of a concerned resident in the city of Martinez, who contacted KTVU.

Morello Avenue looked like it was in the middle of a rainstorm on Thursday night. "I was very frustrated," said nearby resident Heather Rubio.

But it was no natural event. The center median at Midhill Road was flooded. "I could only see that all this water was being wasted. And I could just imagine how many gallons were going down the drain," added Rubio.

She lives around the corner and is very drought-conscious. "I know that if we have to water any plants, we are hand watering with the shut off nozzle, so that we're not contributing to any waste of water."

But after realizing that this water had been going for some five hours - not the appropriate 5 minutes - Rubio informed KTVU then called police, who told public works. "They see water dripping, whether it's just puddling in the streets or running down the street into a gutter, absolutely we need to be called about it, because we can't be everywhere all the time," said a thankful Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder.

Public works arrived and quickly turned off the water. Schroder explained what had caused the water wasting. "It was a mechanical failure on a valve that failed and accidentally turned on."

There are now strict regulations regarding watering in general, and for medians in particular. No watering with excessive runoff. No watering during the day, and no watering medians with ornamental grass.

"We do have a prohibition, also that you can only water two times per week. And that is plenty to keep the trees and shrubs going," says Jennifer Allen, spokeswoman for the Contra Costa Water District.

Allen adds that as the drought has grown worse, her agency has received an increasing number of calls from the public about water wasters. "I think everybody realizes what a serious situation we're in and they want to do their part in order to save, and if that means calling someone out who has a problem, they're going to do it."

KTVU found another case of median overwatering in a Pleasant Hill housing development. We informed the water district, and within hours, district officials said they had contacted both the city of Martinez and the Pleasant Hill homeowners association to get both problems fixed.

In Martinez, upgrades are coming. The median sprinkler heads are notoriously inefficient.

City officials tell KTVU to increase water efficiency they'll be installing drip or misting irrigation systems on all center medians starting this summer.