BART responds to drought with water reduction action plan
BART applauds the Governor’s call for mandatory water reduction statewide. For over a year now BART has put into place water reduction strategies to respond to the drought. Action items are both short term and long term and align with BART’s environmental and sustainability policies.
“BART has made a concerted effort to significantly cut back on water usage at our stations, shops, yards, and facilities,” BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican said. “We’ve been strategic in our efforts to cut back in ways that make a difference but don’t impact the health and safety of our riders and employees.”
In January 2014, following the Governor’s state of emergency declaration, BART changed its train car wash schedule from a 4 day cycle to an 8 day cycle which represents a 50 percent water savings. We continue to capture and reuse 90% of the water, about 1040 gallons for a 10-car train, from each wash cycle. This is for exterior train cleaning, interior train cleaning still continues. Train wash systems are automated with shut-off mechanisms, hoses used to wash non-revenue vehicles are fitted with shut-off valves.
Grounds maintenance has reduced its irrigation schedule by approximately 2/3 since February 2013 by reducing the old schedule of 15 minutes, 5 days per week to a new schedule of 10 minutes, 2 days per week. Grounds crews have made significant strides to do preventative maintenance on irrigation equipment and to make repairs or turn off irrigation in response to any issues. Ground crews are also fully aware of the emergency conservation regulations and are making sure that landscape is not over irrigated and that irrigation is shut off during and after rain events. Based upon a preliminary comparison of the water usage at stations in 2013 to 2014, we’ve reduced usage by approximately 3.8 million gallons. This reduction of approximately 12% can be largely attributed to reduced irrigation.
BART has recently updated our landscape planting and irrigation design specifications to reflect Bay-Friendly practices, which includes a recommended low-water, low-maintenance plant palette. Staff has identified a large opportunity for more climate appropriate landscaping to better reflect the dramatic differences in microclimates at each station.
BART maintains contracts for the important role of plaza power washing, which includes sidewalks near stations. This work continues as it is necessary for public health and safety reasons. However, BART has recommended that its contractors use reclaimed water for plaza washing where available. At least one contractor has already switched to recycled water.
Staff preformed an inventory of all water fixtures at the stations and has been evaluating potential improvements that can be made to reduce water use. BART has been piloting the use of automatic dual-flush upgrades for toilets. This allows either a low volume flush or a higher volume flush depending on the need. If the pilot retrofits function as intended, the proposed upgrades can be incorporated into BART’s station modernization program, station brightening, and/or bathroom retrofit plans.
Staff will continue to investigate water usage at each station and identify those stations with unexplainable higher than average water uses to try and get a clearer picture of what is taking place and if the usage can be cut back.
Our employees play a role as well. We've asked employees to reduce water usage both at work and at home and to report any leaks in the system right away. “Water is a precious resource and we are committed to finding new ways to do more with less for the benefit of everyone,” Crunican added.