MOUNT DIABLO (KPIX 5) – California’s drought has severely stressed the water system on Mount Diablo State Park. In response, officials have shut down faucets and replaced flush toilets with portable ones.
One wouldn’t know it by looking at the park’s rolling green hills and brilliantly-colored poppies, but Mount Diablo is running dry.
“The grasses are shorter, which means the wildflowers are really much more obvious and prominent and there are big poppy fields,” said Seth Adams of Save Mount Diablo.
The orange landscape is the upside to the drought conditions on Mt. Diablo. But for the hikers and bicyclists who use this as their playground – the water shortage has an obvious downside.
“We neglected to bring any water with us, foolishly,” park visitor Kenny Preston of Oakland told KPIX 5 on Monday.
Francis Ilao, who trains on the mountain, knows to bring water but is used to refilling often as he heads for the summit. On Monday, his refill stations were few and far between. “I’ll just bring two next time. This is the first time I’ve seen that sign. So I’ll be prepared next time, he said.
The main part of Mount Diablo’s water supply relies on rainfall collected in underground springs. This year, they have only received 8 inches of rain, compared to the usual 20 or more.
“And the springs are down to a trickle,” Adams said. “The water system is severely stressed. They’ve turned off nearly all the faucets. They’ve replaced the bathrooms with porta potties, the showers are turned off in the campgrounds.”
State parks are being asked to reduce landscape irrigation by 20 percent. They’re taking even more drastic steps on Mount Diablo, which doesn’t seem to faze the regulars.
“It’s not as convenient, but it’s something. Better than nothing,” said Dan Purkett, a park visitor from Oakland.
“We understand because there’s no water. Even the critters are coming down to look for water,” said Yvonne Gilchrist of Danville.
And when humans find water up here these days it’s a bit like striking gold.
The restrictions appear to be paying off. Water usage has been cut by 50 percent. Staffers who live on the mountain are also cutting back.