City of Menlo Park and SLAC win Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards

by Contributed Content on March 12, 2016

The Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards highlight government agencies, businesses, organizations and individuals that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to save our most precious natural resource — water. 2016 awardees will be acknowledged at a awards ceremony hosted by Google on March 23. Two Menlo Park entities are be recognized:

City of Menlo Park (Water Utility) – Since the Governor’s water conservation mandate kicked in last June, Menlo Park has registered the highest cumulative water savings in the State at 47%, exceeding its 16% Conservation Standard by 31%.

Through its Lawn Be Gone program, the City rebates up to $2 per square foot for projects that convert lawns to drought-tolerant landscaping. This year the program has already converted 112,958 square feet of lawn. Residents and businesses have partnered with the City to save more than 5 million gallons annually.

In 2013, Menlo Park developed a Conserve-A-Scape program that provides on-site design consultation with a professional landscape architect, a customized drought-tolerant garden design and customized plant and supply lists. The value of this service is $400, however, residents are only required to pay $50, with the remainder covered by the City.

Menlo Park also funds Waterfluence, an automated water use and water budget indicator that allows the City’s top 101 water users to see their water usage over time and compare it to their water budget. Waterfluence also provides on-site water audits and information about the City’s water conservation programs.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Government Agency) and Gachina Landscape Management – SLAC captures and reuses water whenever possible. Rainwater is collected around electrical equipment, storage tanks and others structures, and then processed through a non-hazardous water treatment unit and reused in cooling operations. Clean wastewater from construction projects and pipe testing also is being collected and filtered for use in cooling towers or for landscape irrigation.

Working with Gachina Landscape Management, and with support from the City of Menlo Park’s Lawn Be Gone program, SLAC replaced 20,000 square feet of lawn with drought resistant landscaping and drip irrigation. As a result of their actions, SLAC has saved 15 million gallons of potable water over the past two years despite an 11% increase in electricity usage and related cooling demands. Indoor water use was reduced by 23% and potable irrigation water by 80%.

Photo of SLAC Science and User Support building by Irene Searles (c) 2016

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