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Roseville turning on aquifer wells in response to drought

Some residents may notice change in water characteristics
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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The city of Roseville will turn on its four aquifer wells next week in response to ongoing concerns over the current drought and the critically low levels of Folsom Reservoir.

In doing so, the city is in line with several other water agencies in the region, including the Sacramento Suburban Water District, Citrus Heights Water District and both city of Sacramento’s and Sacramento County’s water agencies.

How long the wells will stay on is unknown.

“We’ll turn them off as soon as we can, but that will be determined by if and when it rains,” said Roseville Environmental Utilities Director Ed Kriz.

Some residents may notice a difference in the well water’s characteristics, such as a higher hardness, Kriz said. When the city ran its wells in 2007, some people complained the water didn’t taste as crisp as the high-quality water from Folsom.

“We all have to be in this together,” he said. “This is an unprecedented time.”

The well water meets all of the same testing and quality standards, Kriz said. The wells draw on groundwater aquifers located about 200-400 feet beneath the ground. Holes have been drilled down to the aquifer and water is pumped up through pipes, and directly into the city’s water distribution system. The only treatment applied is chlorine, which is a disinfectant and required by the city’s permit from the California Department of Public Health.

The city has four wells, and is installing more in west Roseville where new development continues. These wells are available for emergency and drought conditions.

In May, city staff began working with other agencies on strategies for addressing dry conditions and the possibility that Folsom Reservoir — Roseville’s main water supply — would be reduced to critically low levels.

“We were holding out hope in the fall that we’d get some rain and it didn’t come, so that amped up the work we’re doing,” Kriz said.

The bulk of California’s rain occurs in the first three months of each year, but the city expects to have to impose mandatory drought measures in February, Kriz said. In mid-January, the city asked residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17, also asking residents to reduce their water use by 20 percent immediately.              

“Business users who do not have irrigation needs will find it a little more challenging to cut back on water usage by 20 percent,” said Downtown Roseville Merchants Association President Scott Alvord. “However, talking to our staff (at A Dash of Panache) about the issue and getting creative ideas on how we can work together will help us reach that goal quicker. We plan to encourage our business members to have that talk and make a sincere effort to cut back.”

In a joint statement to the Press Tribune, Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations President Werner Kuehn and Executive Board Member Mark Smith said their group agrees that the 20 percent voluntary reduction request is necessary.

“We have no problems letting our lawns die out as a trade-off for having clean and abundant drinking water,” according to the RCONA statement. “We are glad to comply with this request.”

RCONA expressed concern that water usage Roseville parks, city-owned golf courses and opens spaces also needs to be monitored and “policed.” But most of Roseville’s golf courses, parks and medians are actually irrigated using recycled water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The city encourages residents to report any perceived water waste, regardless of source, by calling (916) 774-5761.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.