The drought is drying up many city-owned decorative water fountains and kids' splash areas in parks this year in the San Ramon and Tri-Valley areas.
As Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and part of San Ramon prepare for some of the harshest water shortages in the Bay Area, cities are turning off or limiting hours of fountains and splash features. Officials note that reducing water for recreation or decorative purposes leaves more for people to drink and for cooking and bathing.
Pleasanton this year will not turn on splash water features for youngsters at Val Vista Park and the Tennis and Community Park. The splash runoff in those two parks is not recirculated, so it goes down a drain. About May during normal years, Pleasanton activates the water features, allowing users to push a button to start the spray.
"We have to do everything we can to save water," said Jackie Cordes, a Pleasanton water efficiency technician. "It's too bad for the kids who like to play in the splash areas, but the bottom line is we have a serious water shortage."
Dublin has shut down all city-owned decorative fountains, including ones at the Dublin Civic Center, the senior center, Shannon Park and Emerald Glen park, the city announced in a written statement.
Dublin also is limiting hours of its splash features at Shannon and Emerald Glen parks. The splash areas will open only on afternoons when it's hotter than 90 degrees during the period from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day,
Livermore has turned off one of its six downtown fountains and cut in half the operating hours of the other ones to about four to five hours a day. Livermore city officials said they may consider further cuts of most fountains, but would not cut more hours of the Lizzie Fountain, a splash feature, because children seek it out to get relief from the heat.
Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore and the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon get their water from Zone 7 Water Agency, which is cutting back supplies 25 percent due to shortages in its state water supplies.
San Ramon is reducing operating hours for the Central Park fountain by three hours a day so it gets turned off at 6 p.m. on summer nights. San Ramon is located mostly within the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which is seeking a 10 percent voluntary water reduction but is not going to impose higher water rates in the drought.
"It's a very popular fountain, so reducing its water usage but still making it accessible is the goal," said Jeff Gault, San Ramon's operations division manager. "A lot of people who use it would complain if it were shut off completely, especially when they are cutting back at home, and they want to have somewhere they can go to."
In addition, San Ramon's only decorative park fountain, located near in Central Park's community center, is being reduced to half of its size this year, so the city can install a new patio for social functions -- but also out of desire to save water, he said.
The town of Danville decided not to turn on the water for splash features in municipal parks as is normally done in spring. Fountains in ponds at Danville's Sycamore Valley Park and Oak Hill Park will continue to operate because they circulate and oxygenate the pond water, said Geoff Gillette, a Danville spokesman.
Reporters Joyce Tsai and Jeremy Thomas contributed to this report. Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.