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:
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