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At its meeting Wednesday, the Community Services District board of directors rejected a staff recommendation to keep the community's drought response at a 20 percent cutback in water usage. Instead, the board voted to reduce the conservation level to 10 percent, adding a third watering day per week. The change takes effect May 1. To date, water use is down less than 9 percent from the same period in 2013. Despite being the driest year on record, 2013 continued an upward trend in water usage that began in 2012, according to the CSD.

When the CSD declared the Stage 2 drought response in January,  the community's reservoirs -- Calero, Chesbro and Clementia -- were 60 percent full and Cosumnes River flows were less than a third of the 70 cubic-feet-per-second threshold for diversion.

Without a significant change in the snowpack and rainfall, the CSD would not be able to fill its reservoirs, and could run out of water by early fall, a consultant informed the board. The situation was potentially more dire than the '76-'77 drought that has shaped CSD water planning and policies.

When rain did arrive in February, the CSD was able to begin filling the reservoirs, even though rainfall in February and March didn't end the statewide drought emergency.

There's no drought as far as Rancho Murieta is concerned, Jay Schneider, a neighboring ranch owner, told the board Wednesday after praising water planning for the community.

"We're very lucky right now," said Carl Gaither, a resident who wanted to discuss the Rancho Murieta Association's using water for a spray park in a time of drought. Another resident, Phil Neth, making his third appearance before the board concerning Guadalupe Lake, wanted to know why the RMA was "putting drinking water into a drainage ditch and calling it a lake."

Director Mike Martel responded that the CSD is "not dictating to RMA about how they're going to reduce their water use if there's a drought."

General Manager Ed Crouse, referring to the Stage 2 requirements, said, "RMA is responsible to determine how they're going to reduce their water use by 20 percent."

CSD  staff said about 100 people attended the district's Conservation Fair earlier this month. The emphasis was on outdoor water use, which accounts for more than half of the community's water use.

In brief

  • An effort to introduce an ordinance for a drought-related tiered pricing structure failed for lack of a motion.
  • The board approved a contract for legal services from Bartkiewicz, Kronick & Shanahan for district counsel legal services. Attorney Dick Shanahan succeeds Jon Hobbs, who resigned as district counsel effective April 1.
  • The board rejected a personal injury and damage claim filed by a resident and forwarded the claim to the district's insurance carrier. 
  • The public hearing on adopting a mitigated negative declaration for the groundwater well augmentation project and approving the project was continued until next month at the request of Jay Schneider whose property borders one of the well sites. Schneider said he hadn't received notice of the project.

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