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In a letter to its customers, the Community Services District outlined this winter's water situation and gave a plain-speaking explanation of how it gathers water in the wet season to serve the community during the dry season.

The letter, which hit community mailboxes Saturday with the CSD's monthly bill, also detailed how the district works with the Country Club to see that its courses get enough water in dry years.

After a wet February, with more rain forecast for the coming week, the Sacramento area's rainfall total is at about 75 percent of the seasonal norm. Statewide, the mountain snowpack's water content is about the same.

Some of the points in the letter, written by CSD General Manager Ed Crouse:

  • Half of the community's water consumption goes to irrigate landscaping.
  • Water diversion from the Cosumnes got off to a late start last fall due to low river flows.
  • While the district doesn't plan to implement water conservation measures this year, measures are coming soon to comply with a state mandate to reduce water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. (See coverage of last week's CSD board meeting, where the board discussed implementing a pricing structure that would encourage people to conserve water.)
  • The Country Club irrigates its courses with recycled water. When that falls short, the CSD helps with river water or water from Lake Clementia.
  • Even at their lowest levels early this winter, the community's lakes were two-thirds full.

Here's the full text of Crouse's letter:

Dear Resident,

For a while this winter, it looked like the rain would never come. But a series of February storms secured Rancho Murieta's water supply for the year. Today, all the lakes are on track to be full prior to the end of our diversion season in May.

Our water rights allow the District to begin pumping water from the Cosumnes River in November, but river flow historicaly is not high enough in the fall to allow diversion. This winter, due to low flows, we got started later than usual. Early in the winter, scarce rainfall affected the water supply in two ways: the river did not contain enough water to allow pumping and little snow fell in the mountains for late season snowmelt.

Other areas of the State are experiencing the third year of drought. State and federal water projects may not be able to provide their normal municipal and agriculture supplies. As a result, several local water districts have mandated water conservation measures. The District does not receive state or federal water.

While our District does not intend to mandate water conservation measures this year, efficient water use is always the right thing to do. Visit our website www.rmcsd.com for efficient water use ideas. Over time, however, the District will begin implementing water conservation measures to comply with Governor Schwarzeneggers's 2007 mandate to reduce water consumption 20% statewide by 2020.

The lowest water demand traditionally occurs in winter because water is not being used for irrigation (which accounts for more than half of the household water consumed). This year's early warm winter meant that many residents kept their irrigation on longer, increasing consumption. Water levels in the lakes were lower than normal. Even at their lowest levels, our reservoirs were 64% full.

January was a dry month, but February rained buckets. River flow was so abundant that we could use our preferred method of diverting water at a lower rate for a longer period of time. We will continue this practice through the end of May. This method is more efficient on the pumps and uses less energy.

Of course, pumping is not finished for the season. Between now and the time our diversion window closes in May, we will continue to "top off" the reservoirs, replacing water consumed by the community. Toward the end of the diversion season, batter boards will be inserted into the spillways to create an extra 2 feet of water storage. Those extra gallons will compensate for evaporation losses expected in the summer.

To ensure that water is as clean as possible before it enters the reservoirs, we are selective about when we divert. Big downpours flush a lot of debris and sediment down the river, so we wait until the turbid water washes past before diverting. Some sediment inevitably flows into the lakes, but as the water sits in the lakes, the sediment slowly settles out.

Rancho Murieta's lakes are used for water storage, not for flood control or to collect natural run-off. The Department of Health Services classifies the lakes as "terminal reservoirs" meaning that water goes directly from the lake into the treatment plant. Unlike Folsom Lake, which is self-cleaned by water flowing through it and out, our reservoirs do not have any flushing action. Whatever is in the water in the reservoir stays there until the water goes through the treatment plant. To prevent possible contamination, surface run-off water is kept out of the reservoirs as much as possible. For example, the cut-off ditch around Chesbro and adjacent residential areas prevents fertilizer and roof water run-off.

Residents often wonder how the Country Club gets its water, especially in dry years. Recycled wastewater is the primary source for golf course irrigation. Should there not be enough recycled water, either river water or water transferred from Clementia can be used. Last year, because of lower than normal stored wastewater, coupled with the dry and warm summer, the District augmented recycled water deliveries in May and June with river water and in August and September with Clementia water. We anticipate a similar approach this year and we will work closely with the Country Club to ensure their irrigation needs are met.

I hope you found this letter informative. If you have any further questions, please give me a call.

Edward R. Crouse
General Manager

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

water resources, etc.

Thank you, rm.com, for publishing Ed Crouse's letter in its entirety. For some time, both residents and some Directors have asked the GM to send out an explanation of our local water situation. I think the letter that was enclosed with today's billing notice answered about every question from A to Z.

However, while "we" have no immediate water production issues, I do feel we must be part of the State's larger solution and adhere to the Gvoernor's 20/20 stance (20% conservation by 2020). 

Thanks you, again, and a kudo to Ed Crouse as well for explaining just where we arem how and why we do what we do, etc.

Bobbi Belton

Bobbi Belton

Rick Westcott's picture
Joined: 05/26/2008
Posts: 4
Post rating: 0

Thanks for the update

Kudos to Ed for sending out the water update. I appreciate being kept informed of District matters. Hope this is a regular communication.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

State slashing pumping rights

I cringe when it is suggested that we have reliable guarantees of all that water.  The State can reduce our rights at any minute with  a stroke of a pen, and we know the Cosumnes is experiencing flow reductions downstream from the overpumping of wells.  And Tsakapoulous remains intent upon doing much more well pumping downstream.

From today's Bee:


Thousands of California farms and cities have been warned that their permission to pump water from rivers and creeks could be cut back if the drought worsens.

Such a warning, mailed to about 7,000 water rights holders on Thursday by the state Water Resources Control Board, has not been issued since 1988 amid the state's last prolonged drought.

The state did not release a list of all cities and farms that will receive the warnings. But state officials said Monday the list includes every city and farm with state water rights in the watersheds of the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Russian rivers as well as the central coast and the Tule Lake region of Lassen County. That would include the city of Sacramento.

"The warning is a reminder that a California water right is not absolute. In fact, state regulators have the power to cut off water diversions in the public interest – whether to protect the environment or to stretch a precious natural resource thinned by drought."


Negotiating with the developers about water involves making assumptions about water availability 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now.  We must keep in mind that our pumping permits are ephemeral and subject to severe reductions should the State decide "our" water is more severely needed downstream. 

California's water problems are only going to worsen over time.  Rosy predictions of an eternal supply of more water than we need are not reliable,   and are dangerous to accept as "fact"when plannig for our long-term future.

When this last opportunity to require developers to contribute their fair share to infrastructure is gone, when a deal is sealed, we will be on our own.  Our history is one of looking back, time after time, and realizing we've been had. 

This is the time to rigorously question the assumptions of reliability of our pumping rights AND how on earth could we meet the 50% conservation assumption which is crucial to the studies' claim that we'll have enougn even in severe drought WITHOUT a purple pipe irrigation infrastructure to fall back on when the inevitable occurs and our pumping is curtailed because they need to send more water South.

Now is the time.  There IS no "later."




Candy Chand's picture
Joined: 08/15/2007
Posts: 304
Post rating: 811


Thank you, Wilbur, for posting that excellent Bee article. I read it this morning with frustration.  Citizens, enviro groups, and even the Attorney General, tried to make that point during numerous Sac County hearings.

Yet, developers, and CSD, insisted there was/is enough water for full buildout--as much as 2500 additional homes. Why? Because, they argued, Murieta has a water permit.

The bottom line is, as the Supreme Court justices already told us at Sunrise Douglas, such logic is nothing more than banking on "paper water."

Water "Rights" can be revoked at any time. What would we have done if all those homes were already built?

Candy Chand


Andy Keyes's picture
Joined: 08/22/2007
Posts: 289
Post rating: 120

Thanks Ed Crouse

A great explaination of the issue and of the present condition of our water resources.  Keep up the good work Ed.

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