Sustainability Blog

The first of five Unite2Green Hayward workshops was held on Saturday, October 31 on the topic of water conservation and efficiency. The Unite2Green Leaders ran concurrent half hour workshops in Spanish and English. The combined workshops had approximately fifty adult attendees, forty of which attended the Spanish language workshop.

Unite2Green Leaders

Unite2Green is a pilot program that is training “Leaders” - three high school students, one Chabot College student, and one Tiburcio Vasquez Promotora (Health Promoter) - to educate their neighbors in the Jackson Triangle about the effect that climate change will have on their health, finances, and security. The City is partnering with ICLEI and the Hayward Promise Neighborhood to implement Unite2Green Hayward with funding from the San Francisco Foundation. The Unite2Green Leaders will run five workshops between October and April on water, energy, recycling, environmental health, and climate change.

The water efficiency workshop covered the drought, cost-effective ways to reduce water waste, and the City’s water conservation programs. The Leaders included photos of their own efforts to reduce water consumption. The majority of residents who attended the workshop rent their homes and the workshop was tailored to renters, who typically do not pay their own water bills or receive the City’s educational materials as bill inserts.

The workshops were held at the HUSD Parent Resources HUB in conjunction with the Hayward Promise Neighborhood Fall Reading Festival. In addition to books, Halloween treats, and lunch, attendees received free water-efficient showerheads.

Unite2Green Leaders


Things I learned during my time in Hayward’s Environmental Services Department 

by Arianna Bankler-Jukes

As I finished my last meeting at UES, I turned to the head of the department and said, “I am basically an analyst now, so if you want to hire me, you are more than welcome to.” Now, there was no physical way I could have jumped from fellow to analyst in six weeks, but I did learn an incredible amount during my time in Hayward’s Environmental Services department. While I could sit here spewing out all the cool stuff I now know, I’ll limit it to my top three favorite tidbits of info.

These three bits of info only touch the surface of all that is going on in Hayward and locally. The best part is that there are so many small changes we can make in order to be environmentally friendly citizens, if it wasn’t for the environmental services department in Hayward, I would not be as hip to these tips. Thanks Hayward U&ES!

1. Free things! Did you know that you could go to city hall and pick up a free replacement showerhead and sink faucet? Let me put a little more emphasis on an important part of that… you got these things for FREE! I love free things. I also love environmentally sustainable things. So free environmentally sustainable things are really some of the best double whammies out there. The shower and faucet heads have an aerator function, adding air to the water flow so that the pressure feels the same but less water is used. It is super easy to replace; you literally twist off the old showerhead and twist on the new one. Getting one from Hayward city hall is also a great way to meet Jenn at the front desk who hands the supplies out… and she is awesome so it is the best of both worlds.

2. Compost: While Hayward hooks homes up with free, green bins for kitchen compost use, I live in Berkeley and our city hall doesn’t love us as much. Ok, that is not entirely true Berkeley is great but you know what I mean – we don’t get free small bins. So, one cool tip I learned during my time here at Hayward is that you can easily collect bio-trash at home. I now put all of my food scraps, coffee filters, and used paper towels into old egg cartons or cereal boxes and store it in my freezer before taking them out to the green bin. Best part of this whole thing – No fruit flies or bad smells! Woot woot!

3. Co-Gen Life: I was fortunate to get a tour of Hayward’s waste treatment plant. The EPA requires all sewage water to be treated before going out into the bay (for good reason because that would be so gross otherwise). Well one thing that you may think is also gross but is actually super cool is what they do with that solid waste coming through the sewage system. It sounds a little icky but bear with me; they heat up the solid waste and use the biogas that comes from the heated up waste to power the waste treatment plant. They get so much energy from this process (known as cogeneration or as the cool kids call it, the Co-Gen) that the plant actually produces more energy than it consumes – what! Talk about efficient! Way to go Hayward Waste Treatment plant!


Part of the City’s role in keeping trash off of Hayward’s streets is to provide public trash cans. Utilities and Environmental Services staff recently selected locations of fifteen new “Big Belly” trash and recycling receptacles based on review and general direction from the Council Sustainability Committee. The new cans are primarily on Mission Boulevard, Tennyson Road and Hesperian Boulevard. Maintenance Services staff completed the installations.

Big Belly Trash Can

Why Big Belly? In addition to more capacity for trash and recyclables, the size and design of the openings limit the potential for household garbage. Three Big Belly units were initially installed in the downtown a few years ago and have proven to be versatile and practical. The eighteen Big Belly units are in addition to the approximately 280 public litter containers located throughout the City. As part of the contract with Waste Management that took effect March 1, 2015, the City received 20 pair of Big Belly units and will soon receive 50 new exposed aggregate containers. Five Big Belly units have been set aside for future needs.

The City’s Utility Center at 24499 Soto Road just underwent a landscape renovation that will save water and provide inspiration to those looking to convert their water thirsty lawns to a drought tolerant garden.

Soto Road Lawn Conversion

On Saturday, October 10, City staff from the Utilities and Environmental Services Department, Development Services Department, and Maintenance Service Department hosted a “lawn conversion” party” with the goal of both sheet mulching the facility’s lawn and planting water efficient landscaping, as well as providing an opportunity for residents to learn how to the same at their own homes.

The impetus for this event came from a forward-thinking City employee who works in the Utility Center, and questioned why the City had turf in the front of the building, particularly given the severe drought conditions and call for conversation by the Governor.

Soto Road Lawn Conversion

Based on a creative design by Michelle Koo, the City’s Landscape Architect, and through a collaborative effort across departments, City staff constructed the landscape improvements, incorporating Bay-Friendly landscaping principles by planting native species, and using locally made organic compost. This project is an example of how the City couples sustainable policy decisions with sustainable actions. All are encouraged to visit the Utility Center to see just how beautiful a water efficient garden can be.

The Utilities and Environmental Services Department, in partnership with Maintenance Services, offered a compost giveaway event on Saturday, September 19 at Barnes Court in front of the Hayward Animal Shelter.

Compost Giveaway

Literature promoting the event indicated a 10:00 a.m. start time, though residents started coming to the event at 9:20 a.m. Cars were queued the full length of Barnes Court well before 10:00 a.m. The message was that this organic compost is the product of what all residents and participating business place in the green organics carts and bins. A total of 2,460 one-cubic-feet bags were given away to residents. Each household received four bags. The staff from the Landscape and Streets Divisions worked very hard in the hot sun loading bags into vehicles and keeping the flow of cars moving. A big thank you goes out to them.

The event was promoted via a bill insert in garbage bills; copies of the flyer were also placed in the Revenue Division office and at both libraries; and the event was also posted on A total of 379 residents completed a brief survey while they waited in line. The response from residents was overwhelmingly positive. They were happy to receive the compost and many asked how soon the next giveaway event would be scheduled.

Staff plans to offer similar events at least twice per year going forward. The compost was provided by Waste Management of Alameda County per the renewed franchise agreement that became effective in March this year. The City will receive 5,000 bags each calendar year.

Homegrown Compost

A species of air-breathing, freshwater snail thrives in some of the treatment facilities at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.


The snails clog pumps and disrupt the air flow needed to promote the growth of beneficial wastewater organisms. The men and woman who work at the Wastewater Treatment Facility are responsible for removing hundreds of thousands of these tiny snails annually to maintain process quality.

In the photo below, employees Roy Bosbach, Epheriam Taylor, and Marshall Harvey are in a solids contact tank that has been drained for cleaning. These 400,000 gallon tanks are approximately 16 feet deep. After sweeping the snails into a pile, staff coordinates with the Collections Department to suck them out of the tank using a vacuum truck.

Snail removal of is one of the many tasks required to keep Hayward’s wastewater treatment process flowing smoothly.

Wastewater Treatment employees work as a team daily to keep dozens of pumps running, rebuild equipment in house, clean pumps that contain dangerous items like needles and raw sewage, troubleshoot state of the art computerized electrical equipment, and sample and monitor water at one of the highest frequencies in the area.

Workers removing snails