LIVERMORE, Calif. (May 3, 2023) – Zone 7 Water Agency is using goats for a third season as part of their comprehensive mowing efforts to maintain local flood channels and reduce the risk of fire. The goats eat away overgrown vegetation along the banks of waterways, including overgrown trees and bushes with their 6 ft reach, as well as grasses and weeds along the ground. The goats hungrily chew away ragweed, poison oak, thistles, and even thorny vines like blackberry which controls brush and creates an effective fire break. The goats naturally clear low lying brush and fallen branches, all without disturbing the soil or using pesticides.
The goats are part of Zone 7’s integrated vegetation management plan with diverse methods of controlling weeds, grass, and shrubs alongside flood protection channels, which in some areas also serve as recreational trails for residents to enjoy through partnerships with local cities and park districts. While these trails provide benefits to the community, they also pose a high risk for fire, making vegetation management critical.
Zone 7 collaborates with fire officials, environmental regulators, and wildlife experts to balance fire mitigation with habitat creation in the channels. Mowing the channels from the top of the banks to approximately 8-10 ft into the channel minimizes fire ignition hazards. This channel mowing methodology is considered an effective fire mitigation strategy for the channels by Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.
The goats are agile climbers and can easily make their way up and down the slopes of the channels, getting to places where the mowers or staff can’t safely access. They should be finished chomping through their designated areas by the end of June.
Zone 7’s active mowing program begins in May and should be completed in early July. The agency will continue to monitor growth and maintain 37 miles of flood protection channels as needed throughout the summer.
About Zone 7 Water
Zone 7 Water Agency is one of the 10 active zones of the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The District was established by the State Legislature in October 1949 to solve problems of flooding, drainage, channel erosion and water supply and conservation in Alameda County. In 1957, by popular vote, Zone 7 became a special district governed by a seven-member board of directors. Along with flood protection, Zone 7 supplies water to all of eastern Alameda County and a population of 266,000 residents. Treated water is sold wholesale to local retailers, including the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton, the Dublin San Ramon Services District, and the California Water Service Company. Zone 7 also distributes untreated water to local agriculture operations and golf courses.