Some agencies successfully appealing mandated water cuts

BENICIA, Calif. (KTVU) -- A handful of water agencies in the Bay Area won't have to cut their water use as much as the state initially mandated after proving to state regulators that they deserved less severe restrictions, according to local officials.

After filing appeals, five Bay Area water agencies have been given reduced cuts less than they state originally mandated by proving they deserved the reduction. In fact, about 150 of the state's more than 400 water agencies have done the same with varying amounts of success.

When the state ordered the town of Benicia to cut its water use by 28 percent -- one of the state's largest cuts-- the city submitted additional data showing the town's long time water conservation efforts were paying off.

That convinced the state that a 20 percent cut in use was more appropriate that the initial 28 percent mandate.

"What it shows is Benicia has saved water and so it's given the city credit for saving water. But we do need to continue to save water because we are still in a drought," said Benicia's Public Works Director Graham Wadsworth.

For example, the city has been letting lawns go dry or has replaced grass with drought resistant landscaping.

"We've had the most participation in the turf replacement program in Benicia in all of Solano County. So they're really taking to heart and they've really gotten on the band wagon to do conservation," said Wadsworth.

"I just shut the watering system off; let it turn brown. Then I called a guy in Dixon. He came over and painted it green for me a couple weeks ago. Looks great," said longtime Benicia resident David Grapentine.

At Sprankle's Deli, customers constantly talk about their efforts to save water.

"How much rougher it is; how much the lakes are down and all that stuff. So it's always good to do your part," said Jeffrey Greenlee, the son of Sprankle's Village Deli owner.

He said that helped the deli change many of its practices, especially dish washing and produce rinsing.

"We try not to continuously run our water. We try it more conservative," says Mr. Greenlee.

Besides Benicia, 49 other water agencies have received reductions in the amount of water they must conserve include four others here in the Bay Area.

Napa conservation target was reduced from 24 percent to 20 because Napa showed that a spike in water use there came from the earthquake that ruptured many of its water mains. The additional usage was deemed an act of nature and not caused by water hogs.

San Ramon and Dublin went from 16 to 12 percent because of the huge increases in population not initially accounted for. That was also the case in Healdsburg and Discovery Bay, which both received four percent cuts from their state mandates.

But, as everyone knows, if the Bay Area doesn't get rain this winter, mandated cuts are likely to go up across the region.