Bill Clarkson - Mayor

Bill Clarkson – Mayor

RecycledH2O had a conversation with Mayor Bill Clarkson from the City of San Ramon and we discussed the use of recycled water through city parks and median strips. Below is that conversation.

When was it decided that recycled water was needed apart of the infrastructure?

In 1995, a partnership called DSRSD-EBMUD Recycled Water Authority (DERWA), between Dublin San Ramon Services District and East Bay Municipal Utility District was created to provide “a safe, reliable and consistent supply of recycled water, and to maximize the amount of recycled water delivered.”

The San Ramon Valley Recycled Water Program (SRVRWP) currently provides recycled water to customers in Dublin and San Ramon. Future phases will extend recycled water delivery to portions of Blackhawk and Danville.

Recycled water map for San Ramon

Recycled water map for San Ramon

DSRSD supplies recycled water to Dublin while EBMUD supplies recycled water to portions of San Ramon. For every gallon of recycled water used, it saves a gallon of potable water for our drinking water supply.

How many sites are being connected to the recycled water pipeline?

Of the 57 parks in San Ramon, 54 of them are plumbed with recycled water. The remaining 3 will use approximately 2.2 million gallons of potable water.

San Ramon Central Park is still on potable water and the turf is in the process of being re-done. The city is looking into alternative options for irrigation such as changing to a  “sub surface” irrigation system which would save on water lost to evaporation or request EBMUD/DERWA to plumb recycled water to just the fields at Central Park.

As far as streets go, “median strips are currently not being watered. We are moving them to drought tolerant plants and they will be watered with recycled water via drip irrigation.

Do homeowners have recycled water plumbed to their homes or is focus just on major users like parks and/or Bishop Ranch Business Park?

Homeowners are not being plumbed with recycled water. The focus is on big users.

There are approximately 13 million square feet of shrubs and landscaping, 3.5 million square feet of ornamental streetscape turf and over 8 million square feet of park and sports field turf. In 2014, the city used 446 million gallons of water from both recycled and potable sources.

Right now, EBMUD will fund a $2 million project to lay 3.6 miles pipeline to Bishop Ranch – which will include 39 irrigation customer sites including AT&T, the City of San Ramon and Sunset Development. Funding is also being provided by the California State Department of Water Resources.

How is reaction from homeowners/business owners on Recycled Water being available?

“Everyone loves it. The great success is seeing everyone in the valley with totes in the back of their trucks going and getting Free Recycled Water.”

“The only negative is the impact of recycled water on redwood trees because of the salt content. Normal rainfall would flush the salts out, but it took 3 years of drought conditions and salt build up [in Redwood tree] roots to become toxic.”

Jeff Gault, Maintenance Operations Division Manager for the City of San Ramon hired a professional consultant to evaluate the Redwoods trees in 3 parks – Richard Fahey Village Green, Athan Downs and San Ramon Central Park.

In the Village Green and Athan Downs parks – it was found that the high salt content of Recycled Water was having a negative impact on the trees. The following is from the Arborist’s Report.

‘Redwood trees require irrigation of their lifespan. The bay area has a water supply challenge as does the State of California. In efforts to shift landscape irrigation from the potable water supply, less turf irrigation may be provided to nearby trees, turf has been replaced with artificial turf greatly reducing irrigation, and recycled water has been used for irrigation. All of these efforts have changed the water amount and quality available to landscape trees.

‘The stress caused to the Redwood trees in San Ramon is most likely from higher salt concentration in the recycled irrigation water and the drought reducing winter rain and leaching of the salt levels. The higher soil salt concentration is evident in the trees that are declining.’

The trees in San Ramon Central Park were considered to be OK.

Are the decorative fountains plumbed with recycled water?

“No, the fountains are not plumbed [with Recycled Water], but they are recirculated. Some fountains with major leaks were turned off so that leaks and other repairs could be made.“

Are you hauling recycled water?

“Nope. But I did cover my pool in the backyard and it has dropped 4 inches in six weeks. [As of the 4th of July] I had yet to put any water in to fill it back up. I might be able to get by with only 1-2 fill-ups this year. Landscape wise, everything is on drip irrigation and I’ve let my lawn go brown in the front yard.”


Thank you Mayor Clarkson for your time. For additional information, I encourage you to check out the following links: