Los Osos officials fail to comprehend water conservation

April 12, 2015
Tom Salmon

Tom Salmon


The Tribune reports that the Los Osos Community Services District (LOCSD) has implemented a 50 gallon per day per person water restriction and no potable water can be used for irrigation outside. The LOCSD fails to grasp the need for continuing groundwater introduction.

If I skip my 10 gallon shower today and used 10 gallons to water my 100-year-old oak tree; who would know? If my neighbor gives me their extra water to irrigate with, do they get penalized somehow? What difference would it make? If I want to spend my money in protecting an old oak tree, or my large investment of landscaping, so it will be there when it does rain, there is nothing they can do with ordinance.

What government overreaching water police is going to arrest me and at what cost? These are areas this miserable board doesn’t comprehend.

What the daily paper fails to mention is that the LOCSD only has authority to regulate its customers, not all residents within the district or all those who reside within the groundwater basin. How do I differ with my water usage from the other local water purveyors? What do they intend to do with the penalty monies they collect? Do we have a say in the expenditures of penalty funds?

The report also fails to mention that the district recently imposed a 53 percent rate increase over the next four years intended for infrastructure projects. So far the LOCSD has given their general manager a $10,000 annual raise, bought two new trucks, is negotiating a lease on new office building and has severed all ties with the South Bay Community Center for use for board meetings.

The rogue general manager and CSD President Mike Wright is negotiating use of our water tanks for cell antennas in the same 16th Street neighborhood that opposed a similar proposal a decade ago.

This is the same LOCSD Board that allowed the county to dump 150,000,000 gallons (six months’ supply) of treatable water into Morro Bay. A crime that only the Baywood Water Co. paid the price for.

Do people realize that this was equivalent to 3,000,000 daily personal uses? Do people realize that Mike Wright had an obligation to stop this waste, but did not?

He wanted that loss of resource to be able to raise rates for his “pet” projects. He was personally made aware of this prior to the waste of such a precious commodity. I showed him the data, test results and options to correct a mistake before it happened. This one issue is a point of insanity that this LOCSD has subjected on their “subjects.” When will he stand up to the LOCSD and particularly Mike Wright. His office is 528-9370, call and tell them how you feel….. Thank you

Tom Salmon, is a longtime Los Osos resident with 35 years of expertise in statewide public infrastructure.


50 gallons a day, about four units a month for a two person household. Let $15,000 worth of landscaping DIE? We’ve done all the water savers except laundry gear, so get off our backs.

This is nearly socialist vomit crap, 50 pissing gallons a day. I mean, come ON. Do your job, LOCSD flakes and provide adequate water for human habitation and comfort. Money lost on the Cesena/Tacker/Schicker project kill vote would have paid for a 2 MGD desal or SWP water, per my rough calcs.

Do your flippin’ job, provide adequate water for human habitation and comfort, and remember all droughts are temporary and not permanent. Salmon raises some good points.

Put up the cell antennas, there is poor Verizon coverage down in Cuesta. Nuke the whales. Sheesh it’s American to have abundant water availability. Down with Wright and Cesena.


What number are you using for desal?


I am not sure how many of Mr. Salmon’s points are valid and how many are not but I do have one thought about the general tenor of his editorial. Someone (I forgot who) once defined character as “what one does when no one else is looking.”

If you are not totally anti-social and solely concerned with your own convenience and desires, you do what is right for society in general even when it is an inconvenience for you. Yes, there are limits and there can be debates about what is right for “society in general” but it seems to me that the drought conditions we are facing require some sacrifice by everyone if we are to keep a civil society in the process. As others have noted below, how about offering some realistic solutions rather than (or even in addition to) the litany of criticisms of the proposed government solutions.


Mr. Salmon just so you know if a city says they want you to only use 50 gpp and you keep exceeding that, they have the right to fine you. If you still continue you could face misdemeanor charges and the city then has the right to turn your water off.

I am losing a 20 year old tree because of the drought and that is just what happens in major droughts. I doubt me using 10 gallons a week would have done much to save it. Thank goodness oaks are pretty tough trees and probably won’t die.

I just hope people realize we are all in this together and if we work together we might not have as hard of time with it.


Really, you didn’t grasp that the oak tree was just a metaphor for something valuable. Instead of understanding the editorial and discussing the issues, you picked out the irrigation of the oak tree, not the bad ordinance, the terrible planning by the powers to be, you just don’t get it. Also, do you understand how the septic system works, the neccesary liquid requirement, for water to increase anabolic reaction? Do you understand that the loss of groundwater not being replenished throughout Los Osos will change the solidity of the soil? I do apologize, I want to work with my neighbors to do what is best, not what some ill-informed government employee deems what is important.


Then water your oak tree with the 10 gallons.

The point of this is to take steps towards conserving for those who don’t already or don’t have incentive.

People get so bent out of shape. Goodness me.


Better yet, if the oak is established (i.e. ~5 yrs old or more), don’t water it at all! Watering mature oaks — especially during the dry half of the year — can actually encourage a type of fungus that will eventually kill them. The older they are, the more this holds true. They evolved for a semi-arid climate and are best suited for those conditions — not for some misguided attempt to make them “better” with year-round watering.


Yes, oaks are meant to thrive on the water that God gives them. It did fine before Tom came alone.


Hi FranknBali, you guys are awesome!!!!!

I think the idea for the CSD was to break people into this gradually,so people can wrap their heads around what needs to be done without too much shock. Not everyone follows the news or cares about to what heights their wage bills are rising. But some people, like you guys, “got it!”

The CSD water company serves one half of the town, Golden State Water is the other. I haven’t heard what they are telling their customers….anyone know?


I understand that S &T will be using same rules as the CSD very soon

The big dog, Golden State, went to the PUC last week. They were going to ask to activate the rule 14.1. Crazy as it sounds, they have to plead their case to the PUC. You would think the PUC got Gov Brown’s msg. Very slow to act at all of our expense.


So when is the court going to “bless” the LO Basin Plan?

When will we see real projects begin to be implemented? A new well? Shut down Palisades?

What I’m seeing is a lot of busy work (moving offices, meeting space and a cell tower) and nothing on the ground for water.


Here are some great sites to learn about GreyWater and safe use:




Thanks @FairandBalanced good info. I am so surprised that people are allotted a average of 50 GDP per person, it seems like so much?! I had not seen this info you posted, we’ve been doing this on our own after we got the Stage 3 water emergency post card last summer here in Los Osos.

I am not kidding, this water recycling thing needs to happen in our community. Imagine if everyone cut water usage in half?! We average 16 GPD per person in our home…


I think your info may be old, the latest version of the LOCSD water restrictions makes no mention of not watering outdoor stuff. You can use your 50 gallons per day any way that you want:


When people use less water, revenue is lost. People who go over their allotment pay more. Maybe it will make up the difference, maybe not. The operating costs sure don’t go down.

Look at the Basin Plan if you want to see where the money will go. There are $33 million of water projects for all the purveyors to pay for that that needed doing yesterday.

Please explain where that 150,000,000 gallons of water was going to be stored and cleaned and who would have paid for that? Also, it wasn’t up to the CSD to manage that water. If you recall, the wastewater project belongs to the County. And when that de-watering was going on, Mike Wright was NOT the President of the CSD.

BTW, cell tower technology was VERY different 10 years ago. The bankruptcy took away the garbage franchise and the money the CSD used to get from that. Finding a new revenue stream is a good idea.


I would rather hear about how my great neighbors in Los Osos are working towards solutions to be completely honest. What else is new, business and politics aren’t dealing with reality. The question is what kind of society do we want to be?

As a two person household this past year we have taken major steps to implement low cost conservation habits as well water recycling steps to preserve our landscaping and plant new verge tile gardens. Our yards look fantastic and we find that our water recycling (grey water usage) is in fact not only fun to do, but keeps us active in tending our yards. It takes work and creativity, but we feel positive in doing our part instead of griping and complaining about farmers and the local politics.

We have opened our sink drains to 5 gallon bucks which we then pour daily into our gardens and mulch beds. We are not meat eaters so we collect our kitchen water as well and repurpose it on our oak tree and fruit trees. The other sinks are all GreyWater capture as well as bathing over a foot soaking tub that captures our shower water. We use scientific certification systems verified cleaning and personal home products for soaps, shampoos etc. All are certified biodegradable.

Our results for the community of Los Osos are the following: Total daily water savings from a high of 62 gal. Per day per 2 people to a lower usage over last 6 months of 36 gallons per day. We use no potable water outside now. We hope to see our usage drop once again, as we have increased water reuse and are now flushing our low flow toilets with captured grey water.

We are having fun and enjoy doing something positive. I hope my neighbors will take on positive action to both conserve and reuse water smartly. It’s very easy to do, just go on Google and look up GreyWater at home. You’d be amazed at what you can learn, and how to do this positive action safely. I am hoping with our water conservation activities to drop our total daily usage from 36 gal per day for 2 people to less than 32 gallons. I know we can by reusing water safely.

My yards look great and our veggies are coming up gorgeous and my toilets do well with GreyWater reuse. I definitely do not feel deprived of showers or water. I invite everyone to take a positive step forward to help mitigate and address this drought.

Thank you!


I admire your use of gray water.

During the hot summer months, we implement some of your tips but I’m curious; are you retired? Your routine sounds doable for 2 stay-at-home people but with a working household + kids, I’m not sure we could swing what you’re suggesting…

Regardless, thanks for sharing.



You can do it. We are 46 and 50 yo and we are one PTE and one FTE. I started messing around with water conservation and recycling in our previous community in Walnut Creek– re routing grey water from laundry, dish water etc…. But hadn’t taken it this far with the sinks and shower water capture effort until this year in our new community Los Osos.

The key for me is to make it fun and routine for me and my husband. I also suggest large 5gal buckets like the ones at Home Depot ($3). Total time to convert under sink plumbing was 5 minutes. I imagine kids would love to participate!

For us ladies I recommend allowing bucket to fill only half way so they are not too heavy to haul. I would say on average we capture just from sinks and shower 12 to 15 gallons per day. To make it easy we dump our shower foot bath tub into the 5 gal bucket under bathroom sink, and we haul it to garden at once.

Start small, have fun… And go from there. I’d suggest starting with a capture tub or bucket in shower first. Get the kids involved!!!! Have a family meeting, re-meet and look at you H2O bill in 3 months, watch it go up or down. Make this fun for everyone.

Good luck, I promise it’s pretty easy. Remember to use biodegradable soaps too.



I appreciate your input. Looks like I’ll be buying some buckets @ Home Depot! Thanks again!



:) @pasoparents have fun learning!!!


Frank thanks for the tip of saving water from the sink. I catch the grey water from my He washing machine, have no irrigation on my property as it is native or drought resistant. I compost and make my soil better and able to hold more water.

I have turned the water supply knobs closed a good ways,so the flow of water is cut down and that even saves a bit of water. When getting ready for a shower I run the water in my tub into a bucket so I can water plants with that.

Once you get a system going I agree it is not that hard.Times have changed and we need to get used to saving every drop. I hope to be able to get my water usage as low as yours, thanks for the suggestions. I also love your idea of grey water for flushing toilets.

People like you make me smile, thanks for thinking of the community and the well being of all of us in this crisis.

I love to be inspired by others and you have done that for me.



Dog! What a great idea about turning the water flow down. I will need to figure that out… Did you do that at where the water enters the home at main supply? I guess I could do that at each sink as well turn the flow lower. So easy. Using grey water in toilets is so easy. Why haven’t I done this all along. Everything we need is all in the bathroom. Collect in bucket under sink, or in shower leave there until you need to flush…. So simple!

We have all the aerators for faucets and shower heads which really help cut down water use. I started something new after I realized my husband was doing it– I guess military folks know about a “Navy Shower”. Once again a blast from the past, and nothing socialist about it! He said his dad reminded him about it- and how they used to do it on various bases as kids.

At sea or I guess in combat water is so limited (which makes sense- thank you vets) and what you do is get wet soap up, turn the shower off, shampoo, scrub and then turn shower back on and rinse. I mean what the heck why not? My husband didn’t tell me until I asked “what are you doing.” I heard the water come on and off. This is going to be another big water saver for us I think, because even if we have low flow water heads, and take short showers I know this is an area of improvement for me.

One thing I wanted to say to everyone reading these comment threads- is to just take it slow when making changes for your family, keep it a positive activity. I think analyzing your water bill together and kind of making it a family activity would be fun. Have a Water Saver meeting over pizza.

I mean measurement matters, and it’s when you see you have made progress together that ‘something special happens’. It’s nothing “socialist” about it like the commenter said above… It’s just a way to work together in our households and community. I am no heroine, all things came over last 6 months… We just started figuring out new water savings ideas and ways to capture and recycle more water. We’re no surfer, hippy throw backs. We are regular corporate Americans, trying to stay positive and away from vitriol and negativity and denial.

For the gentleman worried about his 15k landscaping investment, no one is saying he cannot have his investment, it’s just that ultimately he will end up paying the fair market price to maintain his investments. There is nothing more American that- I don’t think. We are now in a time where we will pay for what we over use, just like a oil crisis I suppose. Use more=pay more. Waste, like watering cement and running to storm sewers- that is another thing I guess.

My home has massive landscaped areas. The key thing is the previous owners really stuck to the rule of xeriscaping. When we moved here we were saddened to see they had let some of their plants begin to wither and die like a orange and small lemon tree. With the GreyWater from our kitchen sink (again no meat cleaning) we have revived these trees and kept non native shrubs like roses or birds of paradise and hydrangeas blooming and booming. We have planted even more fruit trees, and native flower beds. The shrubs in front are fed by washing machine water that passes through sand and mulch beds just like you mentioned Dog!

It can be done, and it doesn’t have to be over night in my view, take is SLO folks. But I cannot think of anything easier than letting a lawn die back naturally. Easily replace by native purple grass and red fescues. My sister in Redlands ripped out her lawns and planted natives and euphorbia and native trees.

I would also like to say Monarchs are flooding our yards! I have found chrysalis even, we are supporting this endangered species by using no weed killers and planting native. This has been so so easy!

Thanks Dog for the great ideas and encouragement! Mulch everyone, mulch!!!


You are a breath of fresh air! Thank you for taking the time to put such great information out there!


Frank, I did turn the valves under each one of my sinks not the main line coming into my house.

I too do the military showers, and not to be gross but I don’t shower every day. If I am just sitting around I don’t need to take a shower, and some times why not just use a wash clothes and clean the pits and privates.

In my ferns I use a product you put in your dirt and it expands and holds more water, I also put a little saucer in the bottom of the pot to catch and hold some of the water I use on them. I then only have to water every few weeks. It is baby steps that over time helps me save water, which helps me save money.

In AG you can have a person come out to your home to see where else you might be able to save water, and they don’t charge for this service. They have cash for grass that they will pay you to remove turf grass. They will give you low flow toilers at no cost also.

Go ask your city what programs they have to help you save water, you might be amazed.

Also there is Loomis tank in AG and I purchased a 305 gallon cistern to catch rain water, right now I am very happy to have that extra water on hand.

I love the idea of a pizza party to sit down as a family and see where they can save water. Make it a game with your kids to see who can come up with the best ideas, and then use them. Then treat the kids to ice cream or a video game just some reward for doing the right thing.

positive reinforcement works like a charm. I like making lemonade out of lemons even if I do have to use grey water, ha ha.

Maybe cities should have a contest for the residents to see who can come up with the most ingenious ideas to save water. i don’t know what they could give us as a reward, but I think it would be fun.

Oh and thanks for mentioning Mulching, 4″ is great to hold in the moisture in the ground. Again AG is lucky we have the mushroom growers out on Huasna who will let you take all their ORGANIC Compost for free, just bring a truck and load it yourself.

Happy Conserving, Let’s work together to get through this and don’t forget to have fun.