Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Making every drop count: Water agencies emphasize conservation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Eric Evans and Cheryl Breetwor-Evans designed their Los Altos Hills home with water conservation in mind, installing a rooftop garden that filters rainwater into their greywater recycling and storage system.

As winter continues to produce some of the driest conditions on record in California, local agencies are looking toward spring with concern.

With local reservoirs at 30 percent capacity, Gov. Jerry Brown convened an interagency drought task force last month. If rain levels don’t increase by April, the California Department of Water Resources may be able to deliver only 5 percent of water contractors’ requests.

However, water rationing doesn’t appear to loom for customers in the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

“We’re not likely to see anything like that needed here,” said district spokesman Marty Grimes.

A water wholesaler, the district protects and manages the water that local suppliers distribute to 1.8 million Santa Clara County residents, including households in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Even after two years of little precipitation, Grimes said the water district’s groundwater supplies remained at a normal range at the conclusion of 2013. He said prudent long-term planning and investment bolstered the district’s capacity to meet demand.

Planning for droughts to come

The water district recently opened a $68 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose to reuse existing resources. Although recycled water accounts for only approximately 5 percent of the current water supply in the county, the new facility is able to transform up to 8 million gallons of wastewater into drinking-quality water each day.

By replenishing local groundwater basins and funneling excess water to a semitropical water storage district in Kern County during years when rainfall was at or above normal, Grimes said the district had implemented contingency plans for water deficiencies that are becoming more routine.

“We know that the state goes through cycles of drought, so we prepare for those cycles so that we can continue to provide water to customers,” said Ken Jenkins, conservation manager for California Water Service Co., the entity that purchases water from the district for the 472,000 customers in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and across California. “Our approach has always been to work with (customers) on voluntary reductions before moving to mandatory reductions.”

Patrick Walter, director of the Purissima Hills Water District, said the water wholesaler that serves Los Altos Hills customers, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, determines water restriction recommendations around April 15. Until then, Purissima Hills encourages customers to conserve water and reduce irrigation during the winter months.

Making conservation a way of life

When Eric Evans and his wife, Cheryl Breetwor-Evans, designed their more than 10,000-square-foot home in Los Altos Hills, they made water recycling and reduced water consumption integral elements of their plans.

“We wanted to build a luxury home in a responsible way,” Evans said. “It feels good to know that water from showers and clothes washers gets used a second time.”

His system includes a 40,000-gallon underground storage tank that harvests rainwater from his rooftop vegetable garden and a greywater system that diverts used shower, sink and washing machine water to plants and landscaping on his property.

According to the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s website, water conservation efforts like those of Evans’ have stabilized districtwide water use since 1992, despite population growth of 25 percent. CalWater confirms growing consumer consciousness, citing a 21 percent decrease in water use in Los Altos, from 259 gallons per consumer per day in 2008 to 197 in 2012.

But Los Altos residents remain some of the most voracious consumers of water, using 2.5 times as much water as the average Bay Area user, according to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency’s 2011-2012 Annual Survey. Only their neighbors in Hillsborough and Los Altos Hills surpass Los Altos consumers in water consumption.

During fiscal year 2011-2012, nearly 1,300 local homeowners participated in the Water Wise House Call Program, a service that dispatches technicians to homes, apartments, condominiums and mobile homes to survey water use and installs free water-saving devices. Other users took advantage of the district’s High-Efficiency Toilet Rebate Program and requested free toilet flappers, showerheads, aerators and other conservation devices.

The district Jan. 1 announced additional incentives for homeowners by increasing the district’s Landscape Conversion Rebate from 75 cents to $1 per square foot for preapproved conversions to more drought-resistant vegetation and added a $100 rebate for the installation of residential Laundry to Landscape greywater systems. Because landscaping accounts for 50 percent of all residential water use, according to the district, such programs play an important role in reducing consumption.

“Many people care about things and are doing all they can,” Grimes said. “Consumers should make conservation a way of life. … We’re going to have dry years.”

For more information, call the Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554 or visit valleywater.org.

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