Water is a precious resource in California, and its availability is impacted by climate change. Palo Alto’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan addresses water supply, water conservation and efficiency, water reuse, recycled water salinity reduction, and green stormwater infrastructure. With continuing California drought, shifting climate patterns, and long-term water supply uncertainty, it makes sense to reduce water consumption, capture and store stormwater, and increase the availability and use of recycled water using a “One Water” approach.
What is One Water?
The One Water approach integrates water resource planning with a comprehensive look at non-potable water options such as captured stormwater and recycled water to supplement and preserve the potable water supply.
Local Water Supply
Palo Alto’s water comes from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). This water consists almost entirely of Sierra Nevada snowmelt delivered through the Hetch-Hetchy water distribution system and is some of the highest-quality drinking water in the world.
Learn more about our local water supply
Make Every Precious Water Drop Count
The City recognizes the importance of making water conservation a way of life at all times. Using water more efficiently is important every day regardless of drought or rain conditions (Read about the City's water use regulations in the municipal code). Help save water by reporting water waste through Palo Alto 311. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message at (650) 496-6968.
Learn more about Water Conservation and Drought Updates
Facing historic drought, increased attention is turning to water reuse opportunities. Recycled water is highly treated wastewater that meets rigorous California Code of Regulations standards. Recycled water is a local and more sustainable source of water for irrigation than drinking water. Every gallon of recycled water used on landscaping saves a gallon of potable water for drinking and other uses.
Learn more about recycled water
Stormwater as a Resource
In a natural environment, rain is absorbed and filtered by plants and soils. But in densely populated urban areas like Palo Alto, impervious surfaces (that make up our buildings, streets, and parking lots) disrupt this natural water cycle. Stormwater collects pollutants when it washes over impervious surfaces, which then flows into our local creeks and the San Francisco Bay, causing negative impacts on water quality and wildlife. Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is infrastructure built into our urban environment to collect, slow, and clean stormwater runoff through the use of natural processes. GSI examples include stormwater “biotreatment” using soil and plants ranging in size from grasses to trees; pervious paving systems (e.g., interlocking concrete pavers, porous asphalt, and pervious concrete); tree trenches that capture sidewalk and street stormwater runoff; and other methods to capture and use stormwater as a resource.
Learn about Green Stormwater Infrastructure
We’re here to help!
Water conservation must be a “California Way of Life” at all times. The City partners with Valley Water and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) to deliver rebates for water efficient landscaping upgrades as well as products and projects that conserve water and reduce storm water runoff.