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Water district to fund innovations in water conservation

Contact: Marty Grimes
Office: 408-630-2881
Mobile: 408-681-9265

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April 16, 2014

The Santa Clara Valley Water District will fund three projects aimed to advance innovations in water conservation. The goal of these projects is to demonstrate effective water efficiency efforts which can be widely replicated. The three grants total $105,000 and are part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, funded through a parcel tax approved in 2012.

After an outreach effort which included notification to more than 120 organizations, 380 schools, letters to local elected officials and a public workshop, five proposals were submitted. The Safe, Clean Water program includes $1 million for grants to study and pilot-test new water conservation programs. The three projects selected are the first in several rounds of funding planned during the 15-year program. One of the grants will go to Our City Forest, and the city of Palo Alto is the recipient of the other two grants.

Our City Forest

Our City Forest, a San Jose based non-profit organization, was approved for a grant of $30,000 for its Innovative Nursery Irrigation Model project. A prototype water conserving irrigation system will be designed and installed at a local nursery. The objective is to demonstrate to nursery managers that they can realize significant water savings within their operation.

The prototype system will serve a 1,000 square foot plot, capturing overspray and excess water that typically goes to waste. The water will be re-circulated to the plants after it is filtered to remove excess nutrients and pathogens.

Water use will be compared to a control crop using a conventional over-spray system. The potential water savings is estimated to be 50 to 80 percent. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

City of Palo Alto

The city of Palo Alto will be granted funds to support two projects, one to improve water conservation outreach to commercial businesses ($45,000) and the other to collect real-time water use data to quickly identify leaks on commercial and city properties ($30,000).

The first project will partner with a company named WaterSmart Software to research water use among small- to medium-sized businesses in the hospitality and food service industries in the Palo Alto service area. The software will be used to develop specialized business water reports to communicate water use and potential ways to reduce use. Ultimately, Palo Alto hopes to help hotels and restaurants to conserve water through the use of behavioral science, data analytics and informational graphics.

The objective of the second project is to provide commercial and city-owned properties with real-time water consumption data through the use of a wireless device, known as the “Beacon,” from a company named Badger Meter. Approximately 125 wireless units will be deployed. The devices will allow facility managers to identify leaks through an email or text notification.

Due to the current drought and need to reduce water use countywide by 20 percent, the district plans to expedite the next round of grant funding.

For more information on these and other Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program projects, visit