In the daily barrage of water news and drought legislation, the Wall Street Journal is doing a better job than most newspapers on the Big Picture. On April 27, it covered the 1.4 trillion gallons of water that have been released into the Bay since 2008 to keep the delta smelt from going extinct, but which isn't really working. Turns out dry conditions leave the water clearer and makes it easier for the little guys to be eaten. Regardless, the longfin smelt, steelhead and Chinook salmon will continue to get a good deal of water.
On May 6, the Journal covered the slow move to smart water meters. Smart electric meters were not without their controversy noted here while smart gas meters seemed to happen magically in B'game. Smart water meters cost about $300 each plus the cost of the network that makes them smart and the savings from human meter readers is offset by higher maintenance. If you have never looked inside the concrete box out at your median strip, it looks like this.
I have no idea if mine is smart or not, but it doesn't look like much and I do know I've never been alerted to a website or portal where I can watch usage by time of day or look for continuous usage at night (a sign of a leak). San Francisco is wrapping up a five-year, $60 million program to install 178,000 smart meters so some EssEffers will be able to do that and compare against their neighbors (controversy awaits). The Journal notes
The data show that about a quarter of customers have some sort of leak, commonly in toilets, irrigation systems or water-softener systems, says Dave Wallenstein, who oversees the district’s smart-meter program. “One family tried to conserve water but didn’t realize a pipe was broken until they logged in,” he says.
In most cases, though, it’s too early to tell how much all this data contributes to conservation. For one thing, water managers haven’t figured out how to separate the impact of their other conservation efforts, such as incentives for water-efficient appliances and drought-resistant plants, from the impact of smart meters.
Districts also are still working out ways to use the data more effectively in conjunction with other information. For instance, the East Bay district is looking at how to use property records and weather data to figure out how much water individual homes should need each month, so that it can give consumers that information.
More disconcerting is the May 9 article that reports on a lawsuit filed by something called Restore Hetch Hetchy that seeks to demolish O'Shaughnessy dam in Yosemite. But
Hetch Hetchy supplies the Bay Area with pristine water, which requires little treatment and energy for pumping, at low cost. Its hydropower is also cheap and helps offset the city’s pricey renewables such as solar.
San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, now a U.S. senator, called Hetch Hetchy water her “birthright” and proclaimed that she would “‘do all in my power” to fight the teardown. “All this is for an expanded campground?” Ms. Feinstein mused. “It’s dumb, dumb, dumb.”
I agree. Water you thinking?
Update: see the comment below for more info on our meters. Here is the same meter cleaned off so you can see the gauge.