Tuesday Feb 17 2009
City tackles drought
By: Megan Wood, The Press-Tribune
Water officials report California headed for third dry year.
Even with the most recent rainstorm, there’s still not enough wet stuff to improve the current local drought situation. According to statistics provided by the National Weather Service, so far this season Sacramento has received 8.22 inches of precipitation, which is down five inches below normal. In an effort to understand how the lack of water is affecting the local area, the Roseville City Council conducted a workshop last week for an update on the city’s water situation. Derrick Whitehead, Environmental Utilities director, told council members that even with recent rain, California Department of Water Resources officials have reported low precipitation and snow pack results, which indicate California is headed for a third dry year. Currently, Roseville is maintaining a stage one drought alert put in place last year that has asked customers to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by at least 10 percent, as well as using minimal water outdoors. The United States Bureau of Reclamation will announce Roseville’s water allocations later this week that will determine whether the city will move to a stage two drought policy that will require a 20 percent mandatory reduction from the city’s water customers. In the meantime, the city has received notification from the Placer County Water Agency that they anticipate having enough water to meet Roseville’s needs. According to Sean Bigley, Environmental Utilities administrative analyst, a majority of the city’s water is supplied by the Folsom reservoir with supplemental amounts coming from PCWA. However, according to Whitehead, accessing the water may be an issue. “If the lake level gets below a certain point it will be difficult to get the water down to Roseville,” Bigley said. “Even if there’s enough water to supply water to everyone.” Possible actions in the coming year include outreach efforts to Roseville’s customers alerting them to the water situation and encouraging conservation practices. “The biggest opportunity to conserve, especially as temperatures warm, is to be mindful of outdoor irrigation,” Bigley said. “Adjust timers appropriately so you’re watering at the appropriate times and aren’t over watering.” Bigley said that in the summer months, 50 percent of water use is dedicated to outdoor irrigation. “As far as inside the home, there’s looking at whether leaks are happening. Toilets typically being big contributors,” Bigley said. The city provides a free program to homeowners called Water Wise house call that will detect leaks and can provide rebates for replacing leaky toilets. Depending on Folsom Lake levels in the coming year and the allocation from the Bureau of Reclamation, it may be necessary for the city to move to a drought stage three or higher. This action would include turning on the city wells to make up the shortfalls from the water coming from Folsom Lake. In the future, the city’s goal is to see Roseville’s water consumption reduced 20 percent by 2020, and 40 percent by 2050. One way of reducing the city’s water consumption is to steer toward drought tolerant landscaping. According to Whitehead, the city is required to update the current landscape ordinance or adopt the state’s model ordinance by Jan. 2010. The new ordinance would apply to all new construction landscaping areas and would also include a number of changes in the city’s irrigation system that would help the city reduce its water demand. “We’re looking for long-term changes to reduce our demand and put us in a better position,” Whitehead said at the workshop. “It will change the look and feel of what we’re used to today.”