Efficiency Upgrades Around the Bay

From Alamo Square in San Francisco to Stinson Beach in Marin County, water efficiency upgrades funded through the Integrated Regional Water Management Program (IRWMP) are starting to provide many gallons of water savings in the Bay Area. These projects, which represent years of effort, cover everything from rebates for low-flow toilets to investigating decades-old mystery leaks to converting grassy lawns to drought-friendly garden landscapes. San Francisco Estuary Partnership, which provides grant administration for IRWMP, works with dozens of local agencies, municipalities, special districts, and others to ensure each project is a success. With the recent wrap-up of several efficiency upgrades, here is a sampling of these successes, which advance Actions 21 and 22 of the Estuary Blueprint: 

One of 700 water meters  installed at residences in Stinson Beach.
  • Stinson Beach, Marin County: This small beach community boasts a population of 632 according to the 2010 Census, but can swell to several thousand on warm, sunny days. The town is fairly isolated, making water supply reliability a priority. The project replaced over 2,300 linear feet of old, degraded water pipelines that were susceptible to leaks, improving water reliability for over 70 households. In addition, water meters with early leak detection capability were installed on all residences in the community, which is expected to reduce water system losses and improve drought preparedness. Project Lead: Stinson Beach County Water District


  • StopWaste: Lawn to Garden Program: The StopWaste Lawn to Garden website provides Bay Area residents with the information they need to convert a water-hogging lawn to a vegetable garden or drought-tolerant landscaping through sheet mulching. The website includes a materials calculator and a matching marketplace for cardboard, compost, mulch, and other useful materials; it also offers information on rebates. Project Leads: Solano County Water Agency (as part of region-wide partnership), StopWaste


  • Alamo Square Park, San Francisco: One of San Francisco’s oldest parks received a significant facelift with a retrofit of the park’s antiquated irrigation system, among other renovations that took place over several years. The 70-year old system wasted more water than any other park in San Francisco; the retrofit is anticipated to reduce water use by 2.5 million gallons of water annually. Interestingly, some of the potential ‘leaks’ of the irrigation system turned out not to be leaks at all, but in fact, due to natural underground springs seeping from beneath the hill as covered by Bay Nature in April 2013 before the project was initiated. Project Leads: Solano County Water Agency (as part of a region-wide partnership), San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department
SFEP staff James Muller reviews the new landscaping installed at Alamo Square Park, along with the retrofitted irrigation system.