[env-trinity] Times Standard: Local water cuts likely despite surplus water reservoir

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Apr 3 06:45:28 PDT 2015


Local water cuts likely despite surplus water reservoir


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| Local water cuts likely despite surplus water reservoirAfter Gov. Jerry Brown ordered unprecedented mandatory water cuts across the state this week in response to a record low snow pack, local water officials are again ... |
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Local water cuts likely despite surplus water reservoir
By Will Houston, Eureka Times-StandardPOSTED: 04/02/15, 9:32 PM PDT |0 COMMENTSAfter Gov. Jerry Brown ordered unprecedented mandatory water cuts across the state this week in response to a record low snow pack, local water officials are again concerned that the state’s sweeping restrictions to contest the drought are leaving little leg room for areas where supplies are ample.Speaking a few hours before the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve previously state-mandated water regulation on Wednesday night, district General Manager Greg Orsini said that they will likely run out of the ability to make further cuts before it runs out of water.“Our per capita consumption of water is lower than the state average,” he said. “We’re only going to be able to cut so much water before we ask people to stop taking showers and washing clothes and drinking from faucets.”Brown’s Wednesday order calls for the State Water Resource Control Board to impose water restrictions that will lead to a 25 percent reduction in urban water usage statewide from usage levels recorded in 2013. Suppliers will have until the end of February 2016 to reach that goal. The order further states that the extent of the restrictions on water suppliers will be proportional to their per capita water use, with areas with higher usage rates having harsher rules.The order was issued a few hours before two local suppliers — Arcata and the McKinleyville Community Services District — were set to approve cuts to outdoor water irrigation in their areas to adhere to the State Water Board’s mandate issued last month that called for cuts to outdoor irrigation. At Wednesday’s Arcata City Council meeting, City Manager Karen Diemer requested that the modification to the city’s required drought contingency plan — which would have limited outdoor irrigation to two days a week — be pulled until May 6 due to Brown’s order as well as other considerations.On Thursday, Arcata Environmental Services Director Mark Andre said that city staff is waiting to see what regulations the State Water Board will create in response to Brown’s order before the City Council votes on any changes to its contingency plan.“It will give us a chance to perhaps integrate some of those restrictions into this so we don’t do it piecemeal,” he said.Unlike most areas in the state where reservoirs are depleting, Arcata, McKinleyville and several other municipalities in the Humboldt Bay region enjoy a surplus of water at the Ruth Lake reservoir, which is currently at full capacity. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District holds water rights to the reservoir and sells the water wholesale to the municipalities and other industrial customers. District General Manager Carol Rische said her district has requested to be exempted from the state’s past two water mandates due to the “surplus” of water, but the state has denied both requests.“When we’re seriously in a shortage and we ask the community to do things to conserve, we want them to trust and believe in us,” she said. “That’s one of the things about this that has been a little frustrating for us.”Since the Samoa pulp mill shut down, 80 percent of the district’s water demand has been cut, according to Rische.Since the State Water Board required that large water providers submit monthly water use data last summer, the McKinleyville Community Services District has consistently decreased water use compared to the same month the year before. But since the state as a whole did not meet Brown’s call for a voluntary 20 percent reduction, the State Water Board mandated suppliers to set limits for outdoor irrigation. On Wednesday night, the McKinleyville Community Services District voted to limit outdoor irrigation to Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.Eureka’s Public Works Director Brian Gerving said that he plans to bring proposed changes to the city’s drought contingency plan to the city council on April 21 to adhere to both the State Water Board’s March order and Brown’s order.“This is definitely going to be a challenge statewide to achieve 25 percent reduction, but particularly in Humboldt County where people have already been doing a really good job of limiting their water use,” he said.In addition to urban water use, the governor’s order calls for restrictions on commercial, industrial and institutional properties. While the examples provided in the order include campuses, golf courses and cemeteries, Rische said she is still waiting to see the full extent of the restrictions that could potentially impact the industrial customers her district serves.One of these industrial customers is DG Fairhaven Power, LLC, which produces biomass power by reusing renewable organic wood materials.“Are you really going to force a renewable power company to reduce its power generation when you also have the goals of a 20 percent renewable energy portfolio?” Rische asked. “... Until we see the final regulations we’re not going to have clarity.”Rische said that the restrictions could have an impact on municipal revenues generated by selling water to customers.Even though Arcata derives 20 percent of its water from groundwater wells in addition to the full reservoir at Ruth Lake, Andre said the city will do its part to comply with the governor’s request.“It’s a drastic situation statewide, and I hope it starts to rain,” Andre said.A resident of Humboldt County during the drought of 1977, Andre said past practices that worked during that time period could also be “dusted off” and put to use in the current situation.“Periodically putting those practices into place to get through these kind of periods makes it easier in the future so it’s not too chaotic,” he said.A summary and copy of the governor’s full executive order can be found online at Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. - Newsroom
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| Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. - NewsroomGovernor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions |
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