As an emergency services volunteer, I joined Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater because we’re in a drought and I saw all that groundwater pouring into our storm drains. Yes, this water is non-potable but is usable as-is for irrigation, and could be purified to drinking water standards as the Santa Clara Valley Water District is already doing for wastewater in Alviso. This year the City of Palo Alto started measuring the amount of water pumped out for underground construction. The first residential basement constructed in 2016 poured more than 30 million gallons of groundwater down our storm drains. That is a lot of water (!) and a waste of a precious community resource.
Since I first joined, I’ve learned that this water is not only useful for a future water shortage – the underground water flow is already a hedge against salt water intrusion from the Bay, it provides support for our buildings and infrastructure (remove too much and we can have subsidence and sinkholes), it recharges our streams and wetlands, and it supports our canopy and vegetation (see the diagram below as to how even grasses are supported by groundwater).
Diagram from http://www.geography.hunter.cuny.edu/tbw/wc.notes/15.climates.veg/veg.images/desert/vegetation.htm
This year the Office of Emergency Services (OES) is updating the City’s Local Hazard and Mitigation Adaptation Plan (LHMAP). It has held two stakeholder meetings and several outreach activities at City events. This coming Tuesday, August 30th, city staff and the Office of Emergency Services will meet to decide which mitigation actions the City will adopt to decrease the amount of risk to which Palo Alto is exposed. Studies show that it costs 4-5 times less to mitigate a hazard than it costs to respond. If you have any suggestions regarding hazard mitigation (it doesn’t have to be dewatering but could be) please send your suggestions to LHMAP@cityofpaloalto.org. A sample letter is shown below. Longer sample letters (courtesy of Rene Wood) can be found in the “How to Get Involved” page. Thank you for your support and advocacy!
Sample Letter To: LHMAP@cityofpaloalto.org
Re: Local Hazard and Mitigation Adaptation Plan (LHMAP)
I understand the City is deciding which mitigation actions to include in the updated LHMAP, which seeks to anticipate and mitigate exposure risks for Palo Alto.
I am concerned about (dewatering or other concern) because (California is in the 5th year of a drought and water is too valuable a resource to waste). I would like the City to (your suggestion here).
(Your name and address)