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Cal Water officials say they're meeting the increasing water demands in Los Altos

 Image from article Cal Water officials say they

Ron Richardson, general manager of the California Water Service Company's Los Altos office, talks at last week's Los Altos Kiwanis Club meeting about the company's services.

With anticipated water needs rising rapidly in the Los Altos area, the folks at California Water Service Company, responsible for the city's supply, want residents to know they're on top of it.

Dan Armendariz, production superintendent for the company, which has offices at Loyola Corners, told members of the Los Altos Kiwanis Club Oct. 25 that the Los Altos area has experienced a 3 percent growth in service connections since 1996 but a 14 percent growth in consumption.

He said a 2001 study the water company commissioned concluded Cal Water needed to find eight new sources of supply to meet the demand. Armendariz said three new sources are already online and two are in process, leaving three yet to be found.

Armendariz, who has been with Cal Water six years, said the company has treated Los Altos water with chloramines since the early 1980s. This carefully balanced mixture of chlorine and ammonia ensures water safety, he said.

In addition, Armendariz said the water supply is protected by a computerized system that continues to deliver water in the event of massive power outages.

In most cases, he said, problems can be addressed "long before the customer even knows there's an issue."

Ron Richardson, general manager of Cal Water in Los Altos, said the company, founded in 1926, has provided water to Los Altos since 1931. Overall, Cal Water supplies water to communities ranging from Chico to the north to eastern Los Angeles to the south. Richardson has been with Cal Water more than 20 years.

Reacting to "unprecedented growth" from the 1950s to the 1970s, the water company bought out local providers such as the Suburban Water Company (1953) and the North Los Altos Water Company (1980) to increase its Los Altos service.

Cal Water currrently has more than 18,800 connections and 294 miles of water main running through Los Altos and parts of Sunnyvale, Cupertino and the unincorporated areas under Santa Clara County jurisdiction.

Matt Sunseri, distribution superintendent of the Los Altos office, talked about handling maintenance of the system and targeting root obstruction problems at water mains through an underground service alert system.

He also pointed to several service upgrades, including a recent fire main project in which crews added 8,000 feet of main to feed nine hydrants in Los Altos Hills. A new water main project is scheduled to get under way along University Avenue in a few weeks, Sunseri said.

"(University) needs more flow - it is one of the older areas that we service," he said.

Melinda Ray, in charge of customer service, talked about the company's efforts to educate residents about water conservation. These range from handing out free children's coloring books and low-flow showerheads at events to promoting use of high-efficiency washers that use 50 percent less energy and detergent.

Responding to a question about whether water is "harder" in the summer, the Cal Water representatives told Kiwanis members it is, in fact, harder in summer than in winter because more water is used from wells.

Cal Water's Los Altos offices are located at 949 B St. For more information about the California Water Service Company, visit www.calwater.com.

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