New petition on underground construction methods and locations

By popular demand, we are circulating an updated petition to send to City Council.

Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater is not opposed to basements or underground construction per se, but rather to the harmful and wasteful practice of dewatering. We also request the City to address other major issues regarding underground construction, including basements, as summarized in our petition.

You can:
a) sign electronically or
b) print a hard copy , circulate among neighbors and either mail or deliver to Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater, 2225 Webster Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301, or                                              c) scan and e-mail to, or
d) Sign (or deliver) the petition at Midtown’s Ice Cream Social on September 18th, 1 – 4 pm, Hoover Park, where Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater will have a table.  Stop by and say hello!

Ice Cream Social

And, here’s another great opportunity to make your views known: Palo Alto’s Comprehensive Plan Land Use Subcommittee will meet at 270 Forest at 1 pm this Thursday, Sept. 8th. The issue of basements and dewatering will be discussed. This meeting is open to the public and individuals may address the subcommittee for up to 3 minutes at the beginning of the meeting.  If you cannot attend please send comments to Elena Lee,, and ask her to forward your comments to the Land Use Subcommittee members.

Thanks for caring about our community resource, groundwater.

Read more for the text of the petition.

To: City Council of Palo Alto
From: Residents of Palo Alto

The current practice of permitting dewatering (the construction practice of pumping out ground water and pouring into our storm drains) is simply wasteful of an increasingly scarce resource. We request that the City
• Mandate better practices for underground construction. For example use of cut-off walls, where groundwater is a problem.
• Require that all pumped out groundwater be beneficially used or locally recharged to the aquifer.
These are some measures that can protect our groundwater and reduce impacts to our natural and built environment.
Additionally, with climate change and sea level rise, groundwater levels are expected to rise also. Some best practices to minimize flooding in areas with a high water table include:
• Prohibit underground construction in those areas in which the groundwater level is expected to surface during or after a 20-year storm by the year 2066,
• Ensure that underground construction does not adversely affect raised groundwater levels during heavy storms.
We hereby request the City of Palo Alto to require construction practices that protect and make wise use of our groundwater and implement land use policies that account for climate change and the importance of our soils for stormwater management.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New petition on underground construction methods and locations

  1. Hamilton Hitchings says:

    Wastes huge amounts of water and basements often built in flood zones.

    • Keith Bennett says:

      This is the first year that the amount of water pumped and dumped for basement construction in Palo Alto has been measured. The results so far are 60+ million, 30.9 million, 20.5, 19.2, and 15.8 million gallons and 3 of these are still pumping. There are 4 others for which measurements are not yet available. The total this year will almost certainly exceed 200 million gallons (approximately 700 acre-feet) – enough water to irrigate a large fraction of Palo Alto’s residential yards for a year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.