Water waste leaves city steaming
: Which city agency is responsible for the outdoor showers at our public beaches? I have observed on several occasions tremendous water waste at Pokai Bay Beach Park by a homeless woman who showered for 20 minutes, homeless folks washing clothes, children (supervised and unsupervised) playing for at least 15 minutes with three or more showers on. Whoever is responsible needs to install a device that would cut off the shower within a specified time. It might cost us taxpayers to purchase the new devices; however, we can't afford to waste precious water and money statewide.
Answer: The city Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for the showers at Pokai Bay Beach Park and 66 other city beach parks.
At a minimum of four at each park -- more at larger parks -- that's at least 268 showers.
"Yes, we do have problems with people wasting water in our parks," much as you described, said Craig Mayeda, administrator of the Maintenance and Recreation Division of the Parks Department.
The problem is not in the shower devices, but with the users.
"We have tried many water-saving devices," a frustrated Mayeda said. Nothing has worked.
"We have tried shower heads that reduce the flow of water. These disappeared quickly.
"We thought that people wanted the heads to use at home. We then tried to secure them on. The pipes above the shower heads or the shower heads were broken off. We finally figured out that they wanted a larger flow to either wash off the sand or to have the feeling of a lot of water on themselves," he said.
The department also tried using spring-loaded faucets that stay on only for a short period.
"But they don't last very long and draw the ire of persons trying to use the faucets," Mayeda said.
Sometimes they were broken by users, but most of the time, they just broke from use and had to be regularly replaced. That became a relatively expensive practice, Mayeda said.
"We have tried to use electric eye-type faucets and toilets," he went on. "These, too, do not last very long." The problem was the salt air, which quickly deteriorates the electronic part of the device, sometimes damaging the electric eye.
In the past his staff even tried posting signs -- "low tech, but serves as a reminder" -- about conserving water, Mayeda said.
If it's any consolation, "We currently use low flow-flush valves on our urinals and toilets," he said.
The upshot: The department is stymied as to what else it can do.
It's in the hands of park users, Mayeda said. The problem with that, however, is that there is no feasible way for the staff to monitor use by regular users, much less the homeless, he said.
For now the department relies on working with police to do periodic sweeps of the parks to clear people living there.
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