I downloaded an application (app) from the Santa Clara Valley Water District(SCVWD) that allows the user to report water abusers, typically landscaping waste like watering in the middle of the day and/or watering the sidewalk, curb, the neighbors cat and anybody driving down the middle of the street. You input your name, and take a picture of the wasted water and then submit it to the water district so that they can communicate with the owner to stop the waste. In California, we have an extreme drought, and a lot of people and huge agricultural industry and yet we are essentially living in a big desert, so water is our most valuable resource, except for Apple-s.
Recently, i was in San Diego where i say something similar at a park, where water was runing down the street and into a storm drain. I downloaded a similar app for San Diego and reported said park. The next morning, literally 12 hours later, at 8 am. the water district called me and asked me what i saw and if they could have the director of the park call me to get more information on where the leak came from. I said ok, and less than an hour later, the guy called me and got the information that he needed and thanked me profusely. It was awesome.
I did the same thing with the SCVWD application, to 8 different properties over the span of two weeks. I never got a call. Never got a response of any kind, from anybody. That was 45 days ago. Then yesterday I got this:
From: Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx[mailto:AccessValleyWater@valleywater.org]
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 4:00 PM
Subject: RE: Santa Clara Valley Water District case number 30548
The following report was filed by the case inspector:
Closed – Mailed Educational Materials
This case is now closed. If you have any additional comments or questions, feel free to contact us again and reference the case number shown above.
Public Information Representative
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Drought Hotline: (408)630-2000
Use this link to add notes to the case:
I wrote a letter back stating my experience in San Diego, my experience here and why I cared so much about 10’s to thousands of gallons of water running into the storm sewers ever week(most of the places I had reported were big company sites run by previously noted giant techfruit, Apple. I stated that water is precious they are the ones that are responsible for it’s distribution in the south bay. I then stated that I would be seeing if the news agencies and the state water control board would be interested in hearing about their lax water conservation efforts. That was yesterday.
Today, about 16 hours from when i wrote that letter, i got a call from a very nice guy from the SCVWD, thanking me for my time in reporting these water wasters and apologizing for the delay in getting back to us and telling me that they have been doing more than just sending educational materials and that they are in the process of putting more inspectors on these reports and that the typical response is less than 24 hours and that they were working on the application so that it gives you feedback as to the current status of your reported water waster and …. well, you get the idea. I think he said all of that in one breath too. I thanked him for his efforts, and his attention to this matter and that i had a few improvements to the application that would keep pissed off people like me from sending him letters like I did the day before. He thanked me for my time and said he would talk to teh app developer himself. He also explained that the water district is really powerless to impose fines or penalties. That they can only report to the retailer who sells the water to the final user, after they have received three separate reports and had three separate conversations with the owner of the property and three separate times where the owner doesn’t do anything. So, they are basically worthless to affect change.
So, the moral of this whole story is: If you care a lot about something, nothing beats an angry letter saying that you will report this to the media and to the government, and being willing to do the hard work of following up on your threat.