A longtime San Francisco resident and neighborhood group leader recalled being flabbergasted when he was out for a power walk one recent morning and came upon Civic Center Plaza, where water sprinklers were on full blast.
After all, he noted, not only is California in a historic drought, but this was two days after city officials announced a mandatory 10 percent cutback of outdoor irrigation and other water-saving measures.
“The sprinklers were going full blast and city workers were out there watering with huge diameter hoses,” explained Frank Cannata, one of the leaders of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association.
“I personally don’t think grass should be watered if there’s a drought. Why?”
Cannata said he took it upon himself to be the water police, but he found City Hall wasn’t very receptive. After making a round of calls to the Mayor’s Office, his district supervisor, David Chiu, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, he received no answers or referrals. He was then told to issue a complaint to 311, The City’s complaint and information hotline, which he did.
“I did all of this, but the process would have deterred most people from reporting this,” Cannata said. “And when The City’s mandating 10 percent cutbacks, I think this is outrageous.”
City officials said Monday that they are in process of alerting residents about how to report suspected water wasters, which, as Cannata was informed, is through the 311 system.
“We are setting up 311 to be the primary call center to report potential water-waste activities,” SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said. “We’re developing the process for tracking and response, and will be updating our customers through customer bills, newsletters, social media and traditional media.”
While reporting offenses may soon be easier to do, Cannata will still have to endure the morning sprinklers at Civic Center Plaza.
Despite the outdoor-irrigation reduction efforts, the Recreation and Park Department is prioritizing that location in its overall effort “to reach the balance of conserving water and protect our living assets,” department spokeswoman Connie Chan said.
“In the case of Civic Center Plaza, it is located in a densely populated neighborhood, and is one of the very few green spaces for residents who live nearby and in the Tenderloin neighborhood,” Chan said Monday. “It also serves as play field for children who live and attend schools in the Tenderloin and play soccer in the Youth Civic Center Soccer League provided by the Department in partnership with America SCORES SF.”
The SFPUC has set a goal of reducing water consumption by 10 percent over 2013 usage. Certain water reductions were mandated by The City last week in response to an earlier decision by the State Water Resources Control Board, including a 10 percent reduction in watering outdoor landscape and the prohibition of excessive outdoor watering, using a hose without a nozzle and washing down sidewalks or driveways with some exceptions.