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2009 Awardees

Eleven Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards were presented on Monday, March 23, 2009 in conjunction with World Water Day. 

  1. Montara Water & Sanitary District
  2. City of San José Environmental Services Department
  3. Applied Materials
  4. L-3 Communications, Electron Devices Division Business
  5. Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies
  6. Stanford University
  7. California Native Plant Society
  8. Assemblymember, John Laird
  9. ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance
  10. Redwood City
  11. First Community Housing

Winner: Montara Water & Sanitary District
Award Category: Small Government Agency/Utility 
Contact Name: Clemens Heldmaier 
General Manager 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (650) 728-3545 
Web Site:

Why Did Montara Water & Sanitary District Receive this Award?

Montara Water & Sanitary District, located on the San Mateo Coast about 20 miles south of San Francisco, provides water and sewer services to a community of about 5,000 residents, making it one of the smaller water systems in Silicon Valley.  Despite its size, Montara Water & Sanitary District pursues an aggressive conservation campaign.  Since its establishment in 2003, the District’s water conservation program has reduced the community’s already low per capita water use by 16%, to just 69 gallons per person per day! Small water systems often struggle to implement conservation programs; they tend to have very few staff members to implement programs, and a limited rate base from which to fund them. This makes the accomplishments of Montara Water & Sewer District all the more remarkable, and sets a great example for small communities around the state.

Key Montara Water Conservation Actions

  • Distribution of free conservation kits, showerheads, and faucet aerators.
  • A high efficiency toilet and washing machine rebate program.
  • Providing a “drip calculator” on their website so customers can insert data on leaking fixtures to find out how much water is being wasted.
  • An aggressive water main replacement program to reduce system water losses.
  • Replacement of all 1,600 customer meters with “smart meters” that provide continuous data on water use.
  • Provision of meter monitors to customers (through loan or sale) that can be mounted on refrigerators. These monitors receive direct informationtransmitted from their meters, allowing customers to audit and amend their water use in real time.

Winner: City of San José Environmental Services Department 
Award Category: Large Government Agency/Utility 
Contact Name: John Stufflebean 
Director, Environmental Services 
City of San Jose’ 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (408) 535-8550 
Web Site:

Why Has City Of San José Environmental Services Department Received This Award?

Since 1991, the City of San José Environmental Services Department implemented the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) program. This financial incentive program for Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional customers has been designed to be flexible in providing rebates for the installationor retrofit of any water saving device or technology in participant’s facilities. The WET program provides a rebate of up to $50,000 per project andhas issued rebates for multiple water conservation projects which have achieved an estimated total water savings of approximately 1.6 million gallons per day.

City Of San José Environmental Services Department, Water Efficient Technologies Key Water Conservation Projects (1991 - 2009)

  • A system that reuses the reject water from the reverse osmosis system for use in the cooling towers resulted in approximately 85,000 gallons per dayof water savings, at one of Intel Corporation’s sites in Santa Clara.
  • A closed loop re-circulation cooling system for liquid ring vacuum pumps saved almost 80,000 gallons of water per day, at Sun Garden Packing Company in San Jose.
  • A cooling tower ozonation project increased its efficiency and resulted in over 27,000 gallons of water saved per day for the Sorrento Cheese company’s San Jose plant.
  • Replacing two of their commercial washers with water efficient washers resulted in approximately 7,400 gallons per day of water savings for Exchange Linen Service in San José.
  • An air cooled chiller to replace a water cooled chiller saved approximately 7,300 gallons of water per day for Red Rose Inc.’s 96,000 square foot office building.
  • Replacing urinals with zero-water consumption urinals resulted in almost 29,000 gallons per day of water saved at 39 buildings of Cisco Corporation’s San Jose and Milpitas campuses
  • A similar project resulted in over 6,000 gallons per day of water saved at various schools in the San Jose Unified School District.

Winner: Applied Materials
Award Catagory: Business
Contact Name: Martin Gothberg 
EHS Audits, M&A Support, Sustainability Team 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (650) 725-7864 
Web Site:

Why Did Applied Materials Receive this Award?

Applied Materials’ water conservation goal is to reduce consumption in its worldwide facilities by at least 10 percent by the year 2012 through three key areas: manufacturing, landscaping and personal consumption.  Since that goal was set, the company has instituted projects that have saved over 51 million gallons of water (the equivalent of 2,500 average size swimming pools).

At its Santa Clara and Sunnyvale campuses, the company has reduced its water use by 16% (42.6 million gallons) since the company-wide goal was set in 2007, exceeding the goal sooner than envisioned and within budget constraints. Even more impressive, this double-digit reduction was achieved in an office/R&D environment, as opposed to a manufacturing environment.

Applied Materials, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale Campus Key Water Conservation Accomplishments (FY 07-FY 08)

  • Transited from conventional landscaping to native landscaping with the advantage of heat and drought tolerance requiring less water.
  • Implemented drip irrigation with smart controllers.
  • Installed hand sanitizer stations, reducing the need to use water for washing hands.
  • Consolidated of tools and changes to software for tools that use deionized water, resulting in savings of more than 10 million gallons.
  • Optimized of other water saving features integral to ongoing operations including sensor activated faucets and low-flow toilets in the lavatories.

Winner: L-3 Communications, Electron Devices Division Business 
Award Catagory: Business
Contact Name: Cliff Baughn 
Vice President, Administration/Ethics 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (650) 591-8411 
Web Site:

Why Has L-3 Communications Received This Award?

L-3 Electron Devices has designed and manufactured microwave vacuum devices for over 50 years. Their ISO-9001 certified facility in San Carlos employs 400 people in a 200,000 square foot plant, producing hundreds of microwave tubes, amplifiers and other vacuum devices every month for use in a varietyof military and commercial systems.

The company recently completed a 2-year, $3.2 million project to construct a new state-of-the-art cleaning and plating facility. The project replaced two separate wastewater treatment and discharge systems with a single, zero-sewer discharge recycling system for all water used in cleaning and plating operations.

L-3 Key Water Conservation Accomplishments

  • Reduced city water use by 65% from an average of 70,890 gallons per day to an average of 25,172 gallons per day — resulting in an annual water reduction of 10 million gallons.
  • Eliminated all plating or rinsing water discharge into the city sewer system — all waste water from the operation is reclaimed and reused in the cleaning and plating operations.
  • Discontinued use of 8 different hazardous chemicals previously used to pre-treat water, some of which had to be transported offsite for treatment.
  • Substantially reduced operational costs, including water and chemical use, hazardous waste disposal and maintenance. In water usage alone, L-3 is saving $21,265 per year.

Winner: Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies
Award Category: Organization 
Contact Name: Kristin Jensen Sullivan 
Environmental Studies Instructor 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (408) 864-8625 
Web Site:

 Why Has the Kirsch Center Received This Award?

Designed and built with a vision and commitment to protect the environment, educate students and the public and collaborate with industry, government, utilities and academic institutions, the Kirsch Center opened its doors in 2005. Not only was the Kirsch Center designed and built to fit into the semi-arid region of California, but it also was built with 70% recycled steel, 40% fly-ash concrete, sustainable and non-toxic building materials, low VOC paints, recycled carpeting and FSC certified lumber, all which have little or no impact on our water resources such as groundwater and the Bay.

At the Kirsch Center, some rainwater is collected in the bioswales to allow for percolation. With the various drought-tolerant and California native plants on its site, the Kirsch Center conserves up to 50% of its water compared to conventional landscaping system. The permeable surfaces allow water to recharge the groundwater system, and the modest requirements of the building for heated water are met by a four-panel solar water heating system on the roof. The waterless urinals in the men’s restrooms save up to 45,000 gallons of water annually, and the water faucets are automatic shut off after approximately five seconds.

For the reasons mentioned above, and many others, the Kirsch Center has received several awards, including the LEED certification Platinum Award by the US Green Building Council. The LEED Award has six different categories, one of which is water.

Kirsch Center Key Water Conservation Accomplishments Since 2005

  • Waterless urinals in the men’s restrooms each save up to 45,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Water faucets are automatic shut off, after approximately 5 seconds.
  • Drought tolerant and California native plants save up to 50% of water annually.

Winner: Stanford University
Award Category: Large Organization 
Contact Name: Marty Laporte 
Associate Director of Utilities for Water 
Resources & Environmental Quality 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (650) 725-7864 
Web Site:

Why Has Stanford University Received This Award?

In 2001, Stanford University developed the Water Conservation, Reuse and Recycling Master Plan to identify ways to keep water demand below the current allocation of water from San Francisco of 3.033 million gallons per day (mgd). By implementing this comprehensive and innovative program throughout the entire campus, Stanford’s water conservation, reuse and recycling program has demonstrated by a steady decrease in domestic water use from 2.7 mgd in 2001 to 2.3 mgd as of June 2008, a reduction of nearly 15%.

Stanford University Key Water Conservation Accomplishments (FY 01-FY 08)

  • Water misers installed on almost all campus autoclaves and sterilizers saving close to 95,000 gallons per day or 35 million gallons of water per year.
  • Replacement of almost 95% of the inefficient toilets in academic buildings and student housing saving nearly 93,000 gallons per day or 34 million gallons of water per year.
  • More than 10,000 academic and student housing bathroom fixtures replaced with water–efficient models, including low–flow showerheads, sink aerators, high efficiency toilets and urinals. 
  • Replacement of all once–through cooling for equipment with re–circulating systems.
  • “Smart” irrigation controllers (ET controllers) on majority of campus academic grounds.
  • WaterWise Demonstration Garden installed.
  • Water Efficiency Goals and Benchmark evaluations are used for new buildings.
  • Significant outreach to single–family on–campus homes to reduce water use including rebates for turf removal and high efficiency toilet retrofits.
  • Re–design of the water billing statement to provide a graphic display to encourage customer review of their water use and consumption trends.

Winner: California Native Plant Society
Award Category: Education
Contact Name: Libby Lucas 
Conservation Chair, Santa Clara Valley Chapter 
Contact E-Mail:
Contact Phone: (650) 948-3552 
Web Site:

Why Did the California Native Plant Society Receive this Award?

Since it’s formation in 1965, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has promoted landscaping with native plants that are well adapted toCalifornia’s semi-arid climate. Native plants can reduce outdoor water use by 75%, while creating wildlife habitat and an aesthetically pleasing natural landscape in residential, industrial and community open spaces.

The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CNPS maintains a nursery, utilizing volunteers, to propagate native plants that are sold at spring and fall plant sales. Proceeds go toward scholarships in horticulture.

The Chapter sponsors public lectures, workshops, and a wildflower show, and members lead hikes into the back country to identify species in their natural habitats. CNPS also is active in the Going Native Garden Tour. Last year more than 3,500 people participated in the Tour, visiting 42 native plant gardens.

CNPS is a statewide scientifically-oriented organization that promotes conservation, restoration, appreciation and horticultural use of native plants. The mission of CNPS is to increase understanding and appreciation of California’s native plants and to conserve them and their natural habitats through education, science, advocacy, horticulture and land stewardship.

Winner: Assemblymember John Laird
Award Category: Idividual
Contact Name: John Laird 
Former State Assemblyman 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (916) 341-6010

Why Did John Laird Receive this Award?

John Laird served for six years in the State Assembly, being first elected in 2002 to represent portions of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. In his first term he served as chair of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, which has the charge of protecting California’s water and air quality. He also chaired a Select Committee on California Water Needs and Climate Change. In 2007, Laird was named the Assembly lead on water issues during a special legislative session on water issues. During his Assembly service, Mr. Laird authored a number of bills on water- related issues:

Assemblymember Laird’s Key Water Conservation Accomplishments

  • In 2006, Mr. Laird successfully authored AB1881, requiring the state to set up a model ordinance for urban outdoor irrigation and requiring each local jurisdiction to adopt its own ordinance.
  • In 2007, Laird’s AB 715 was signed into law, making California the first state to require high- efficiency toilets and urinals. The Plumbing Manufacturers Institute now wants to take this new standard to other states.
  • In 2007, Laird’s AB 1404 was signed into law, requiring reporting of agricultural water use. The bill had support from environmental groups, as well as urban and agricultural water interests. 
  • In 2008, Mr. Laird authored AB2175, which would have established policies to reduce water consumption by 20% in California on a per capita basis by 2020. This ambitious piece of legislation made it all the way through the Senate Committee process, where it stalled. A similar bill has been introduced this year to continue this effort.


Winner: ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance
Award Category: Landscape Management 
Contact Name: Nada Duna 
Vice President/Regional Manager, 
San Jose Region 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (408) 219-1418 
Web Site:

Why Did ValleyCrest Receive this Award?

ValleyCrest, founded in Southern California in 1949, is one of the largest landscaping companies in the United states, and they have made a significant commitment to wise water use. While judging the Water Conservation Awards, the panel noted that several applicants achieved their savings via implementation of landscaping best practices, and had based their water management decisions on advice from ValleyCrest. The company estimates that it has saved in excess of 2.3 million gallons of water per day for its Silicon Valley clients.

ValleyCrest’s Approach to Water Conservation

  • Provide information and education to clients about costs of outdoor water, savings and return on investment.
  • Provide all operations employees with water management training and certification. Pay for education to encourage employees to get their certification in all aspects of irrigation and water management.
  • Conduct water audits and water conservation checklists and scorecards on landscape projects.
  • Manage and analyze water usage on a monthly basis.
  • Use ET controllers, rain sensors and other devices to reduce water usage.
  • Use sustainable approaches in all new landscape designs using low input plants and mulching. 

Winner: Redwood City
Award Category: Innovative 
Contact Name: Justin Ezell 
Public Works Superintendent 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (650) 780-7474 
Web Site:

Why Has Redwood City Received This Award?

Redwood City strives to provide the best possible customer service while promoting the most efficient uses of water. With the Water Allocation Program, Redwood City is not only providing water budgets to their customers, but are also working with their customers to help them stay within their respective water budgets. Redwood City’s use of technology to place hourly meter reads and water consumption and allocation online for their landscape irrigation customers combined with an aggressive inclining block rate pricing structure is cutting edge. Redwood City and its program serve as a model for others to follow.Redwood City’s Water Allocation Program  Beginning in 2001, the City of Redwood City began an aggressive conservation program aimed at its large landscape irrigation customers. Since that time, Redwood City has developed individualized water budgets for all its landscape irrigation customers and provided this information to its customers as part of its water conservation education program resulting in a savings of approximately 15% of the total water used by this class of customers.

Recently, Redwood City implemented its own Water Allocation Program which combines use of the individual water budgets for landscape irrigation customers with a new set of landscape irrigation rates for this customer class to provide an even greater incentive for these customers to conserve. Though this program is relatively new and the savings have not yet been measured, the program has the potential to save as much as 30% of total water use for this customer class or 430 acre-feet per year. Actual water savings will be tracked and reported as the program is implemented.

Key components of the Water Allocation Program are:

  • A new inclining block rate structure for landscape irrigation customers based on the percentage of water used within, or outside, of a customer’s individualized water budget as follows: 0-100% of budget, 101-200% of budget, and >200% of budget.
  • Installation of the Sensus Automatic Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for all landscape irrigation accounts allowing water use data to be available every hour to the City to identify leaks and notify customers.
  • On-line customer access to individualized water use budget and hourly water use data for comparing water use to budget at any point in the billing period.

Winner: First Community Housing
Award Category: Multiple Benefit 
Contact Name: Jeff Oberdorfer 
Executive Director 
Contact E-Mail: 
Contact Phone: (408) 291-8650 
Web Site:

Why Did First Community Housing Receive this Award?

An affordable housing developer, First Community Housing is setting a new standard for urban infill developments with its Casa Feliz Studios in San Jose. Located on a small, one-third-acre parcel near downtown, Casa Feliz offers 60 units of high-quality affordable housing for extremely low-income residents, 355 of whom are developmentally disabled.

The most innovative feature of the project is a 5,375 square foot living “green” roof — the first of its kind in San Jose and the first such stormwater runoff-reducing roof on an affordable housing project in California. Engineered to retain up to 80% of rain fall, the roof reduces the burden on the city stormwater system. Plants on the roof are native, drought-tolerant species that require no irrigation. Since the plants were grown organically and no pesticides are used on the roof, it provides a healthy, chemical free habitat for wildlife such as birds, insects and butterflies. And the water that does flow into the drainage system is chemical-free.

In addition, the Casa Feliz development includes a comprehensive water management and conservation program. The project includes water-saving plumbing fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping and a water-efficient irrigation system, achieving potable water savings of 35% indoors and 64% outdoors. The plumbing installations include dual-flush toilets that average 1.2 gallons per flush and low-flow faucets and showerheads with a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute. The higher upfront cots to purchase these water-saving fixtures are offset by lower utility costs over time.

Outdoor water savings are achieved by a combination of site-appropriate landscaping and a water-efficient irrigation system. There is no turf on the property. The native plant landscaping is watered by an irrigation system with a master control valve and a flow sensor. The system also includes remote control valves, a limited number of pop-up spray sprinklers, independent bubblers for deep root watering, single-outlet drip emitters and a subsurface drip line system for shrubs and groundcover areas. A state-of-the art irrigation control system monitors local weather and automatically adjusts irrigation schedules on a daily basis.