May 29 2013

OPINION: Mountain View Cemetery Draining Its Ponds

Mountain View Cemetery is currently draining their ponds in order to provide irrigation water on their grounds. This is an annual late-Spring /early Summer occurrence, always shocking to witness.

May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013

The  photographs show west-looking views of Reservoir #2. The first picture was taken on December 27, 2012, when the pond was full. The second picture was taken on May 27, 2013, as the volume of the pond has been depleted to less than 10% of its full volume.

When the last drop of available water has been sucked from the ponds, the Cemetery switches over to buying water from EBMUD. Thus, the equation is to trade a full pond for perhaps 3 or 4 weeks worth of irrigation water. The result is a loss of habitat for wildlife that resides or visits the ponds. The devastation of animal life in the ponds (amphibians, fish, turtles) goes beyond the injury associated just with the loss of water volume. The water life that survives the initial shock of water depletion, is further picked off by visiting herons, who can easily hunt the shallow water.  

The Cemetery might believe that it’s free to do whatever it wants with this water resource to which it happens to have access, and the Cemetery also understandably places a high priority on the business of being a cemetery. However, at a certain point, a broader public policy question is also apparent regarding massive consumption of water for the cosmetic purpose of having green lawns at the expense of the health of the watershed as a whole, and the impact of industrial style water management on wildlife habitat.

One wonders whether the Cemetery management gives any thought at all to being a good steward of the water-based habitat and the water traversing their grounds. One wonders how responsible and transparent the Cemetery’s handling of water is. Cemeteries are exempt from some of the California State Regulations regarding water resources, but not all. For example, Cemeteries are required to maintain a “Water Efficient Worksheet”, and are subject to Water Audits that attend to preventing water wastage, by way of leaking pipes, for example.

One may also wonder about the Cemetery’s general plans for the ponds and particularly, the eastern-most wetland area that abuts against Coaches Field, an area that has already been ravaged by Cemetery practices.

People interested in the status of the Cemetery Ponds should go by, and have a look.

David Cohen, PhD

Mountain View Cemetery site

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

Leave a Comment