Friday, August 29, 2014

Database compares cities’ water use


Automated sprinklers water a landscaped center median on Alhambra Drive in June 2011. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise file photo

From page A1 | February 14, 2014 |

Every drop counts

Water use by residents, in gallons per day per capita

Davis: 202

Woodland: 289

Winters: not listed
West Sacramento: 305
Sacramento: 279

Dixon: 171

Vacaville: 172

A water use comparison database shows Davis somewhere in the middle compared to water used by residents and businesses in surrounding cities in Yolo County and the Sacramento Valley.

Davis faucets run 202 gallons per day per capita, which is less than in some surrounding cities: Woodland, 289; West Sacramento, 305; and Sacramento, 279. Neighboring towns that conserve more water are Dixon at 171 gallons per day and Vacaville at 172. Winters water use was not listed.

The database draws upon information from the California Department of Water Resources and was posted in the San Jose Mercury News on Feb. 8. It can be found at

The totals include residential use, along with business and industry, for each urban water provider in California. It does not include agricultural water use.

A clear picture of why there are water consumption differences among Yolo County towns is difficult to pin down, though, according to local officials.

“A lot of the water use goes to landscape use. I would guess there are a little larger lot sizes in Woodland (than in Davis) but it depends on how they calculate,” said Tim Busch, principal utilities engineer for the city of Woodland, who is in charge of the water system, sanitary sewers and flood control.

“If you take a whole city’s water use and divide by population, it really depends on the mix of industrial, offices and residential. Some industries use a lot — like food processing — and something like a warehouse doesn’t use much water.”

Although some Woodland properties have had water meters up and running for two to three years, there is not enough historical data to track water usage to make an accurate assessment, Busch said. However, that will change in the future, as Woodland last year completed adding water meters to its properties.

A similar story of lack of metering in place is true for West Sacramento, where 500 new water meters were installed on properties last year, but the city has not completed metering all residences and businesses.

Greater water use in West Sacramento is most likely attributable to the larger number of industries, said Paulina Benner, environmental services manager for West Sacramento, who deals with water conservation and recycling among other duties.

Davis has had water meters in place for nearly 20 years.

“That has given our citizens a good idea of our water use, and that helps a lot,” said Dianna Jensen, principal civil engineer for the city of Davis, who oversees planning and operations for the city’s water division.

Jensen calculated Davis’ water use at roughly 164 gallons per person per day, based on the total water pumped out of the ground divided by the number of customers. That’s slightly less than that calculated by the database. A reason for the discrepancy could not be determined in time for this article’s publication.

Jensen added that Davis water use is almost three times higher in the summer, and two-thirds of summer water use is for landscaping.

The largest portion of Davis water consumption is attributable to watering fields owned by the school district and parks managed by the city as well as one bottling plant, she said.

— Reach Jason McAlister at or 530-747-8052.



Jason McAlister

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