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The Rancho Murieta Community Services District held the first in a series of workshops last week to meet a state mandate to reduce water use 20 percent by 2020 and to update the community’s water master plan. In the coming months, the CSD will look at the effect of climate change and drought scenarios on the reliability of the community’s water supply and consider ways the community can use water more efficiently.

The state mandate to achieve a statewide 10 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2015 and a 20 percent reduction by 2020 applies to water systems with 3,000 or more connections. Although Rancho Murieta, with 2,500 hook-ups, is under that threshold now, the community isn’t built out, and the next phase of development is expected to add 500 to 600 homes. 

“The question is, when does the 10-year window for you to comply start?” General Manager Ed Crouse asked at Friday’s session. “Does it start now even if you reach 3,000 before 2020 and only have two years to go? ... Should (you) just go ahead and bite the bullet, like we are, and plan that you’re going to get 3,000. ... This is the right thing to do, given the direction that the whole state is moving.”

“Your whole water right is predicated on beneficial and reasonable use,” said consultant Lisa A. Maddaus, principal engineer with Brown and Caldwell. “They can actually question that at any time because your water right is a lease.”  Making the effort to comply with the mandate is “one way that you can prove that you have been using your water efficiently,” she said.

The community’s water rights allow water to be diverted from the Cosumnes River between November and May, once flows reach high enough levels, and the water is stored in three reservoirs -- Lakes Calero, Chesbro and Clementia.

“Our water right comes up for renewal in 2020,” Crouse said. “So at that time, we need to show that we’re conserving water, using it efficiently to maximize the beneficial use because at that time ... the state can take a look at how well you are using your water, and, if they feel the public isn’t getting a benefit at large versus Rancho Murieta, there’s the potential to reduce your water right, to give that water someplace else.”

It’s unlikely water rights would be granted for aesthetic or recreational reasons. “If you want the aesthetics of your lake, then we need to save the water for the lake,” Maddaus said.

Maddaus said legislation establishing the reduction in water use was spurred by “the downstream crisis in the Bay Delta. ... We extract a lot of water from that ecosystem.”

Lisa Maddaus

Consultant Lisa Maddaus took a look at the community's water prospects for the coming years.

Maddaus said state records show April to June run-off has been declining for the Sacramento River since the 1950s, which indicates the snowpack is declining. “When we look back and we analyze these records, we are seeing shifts,” she said.
No growth is expected by 2015, so the district will be asking current customers to reduce their water use by 10 percent. By 2020, there could be 500 to 600 new homes if the next phase of development is built.

When new homes are built, landscaping guidelines will be in place to reduce their water use, Crouse said. According to Crouse, new state guidelines that took effect in January limit planting types, sizes and scope to conserve water.    

Maddaus presented a 10-year highest running average that showed daily water use at about 268 gallons per capita in the district. Under one of four methods proposed for complying with the law, it would mean reducing water use by about 53 gallons a day by 2020.   

During the workshops, the CSD board will be looking at more than two dozen ways to reduce water use.

Integrated Water Master Plan update

The update of the 2006-07 Integrated Water Master Plan will use dry-year and climate change scenarios to test the reliability of  the community’s water supplies. It will also include climate change scenarios for the Cosumnes River and various drought-year scenarios.

“We’re looking at the big picture, and water supply and demand, and when the next big one, in terms of the drought comes, how will you survive?” Maddaus said, outlining the update’s scope.

She said a 50 percent curtailment or more in water demand is a state benchmark in planning for a severe drought like the one in 1976-77. This is the level of conservation proposed for the extreme drought event included in the plan.

A recent peer review of the plan characterized the 50 percent conservation level as aggressive and said it was unclear how it would be achieved.


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

Two words

"Purple pipe"

That's the shorthand for the reclaimed treated wastewater generated by CSD's sewer plant and used to water the fairways.

CSD currently pays money to get rid of the stuff because the Club doesn't consume enough.  An oversupply of the stuff is what got us zapped with the costly  Cease and Desist Order.

Meanwhile the majority of our finite supply of fresh drinking water pumped from the river is squandered on landscapes.

I believe CSD has legal authority to mandate purple pipe irrigation on any new development.  If the developers of the Residences near Stonehouse and the proposed developments in the back of the South were required to hook into the existing wastewater irrigation system there would come into being a system of distribution mains which RMA could then tap into to water its many acres of lawn areas, and down the road if water got critical the system could be expanded to reach at least some residences.  CSD stops spending $$ to get rid of excess wastewater, and tons of potable water is freed up for residential use and conservation goals.

All it takes is the will to stare down the developers.  Hopefully the work in progress will document the need to make this transition and instill the confidence and will to require developers to lead the way.  The current water plan's assumption of 50% conservation in a drought is a pipe dream, unattainable and far beyond what any water agency had ever actually accomplished.  Yet that fiction is the basis of the recurrent rote assertion that we've got ample water for a 5,000 home buildout.  Hopefully the exercise of trying to attain a 20% reduction will bring home just how silly - and dangerous - that 50% assumption is.

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

good idea but too late

Wilbur, I agree with you about the need for purple pipe. In fact, it's something the RMDCCC (particularly Janis ) fought for. Unfortunately, Mr Crouse did not ask the county to use this mitigation. Why? It was too costly for the developers. Ultimately, the county bowed to CSD's official position.

The projects already approved (North and south) can't be  mitigated after map approval.

It's not too late, however, for Murieta Gardens (shopping center and housing across the street) because that project has not been approved. However,the Murieta Gardens project has such small tiny lots, purple pipe will unlikely make much difference. 

In the end, I do believe, that Murieta Gardens is just going through the motions of approval for the sake of valuing their land--rather than for construction.

Just yesterday, I was asked by a county planner to meet with the department about concerns over this project. My response? I'll put everything on record, but there's no doubt  in my mind, the county will approve the project as proposed anyway.

However, approval does NOT mean it will be built.

I don't think much of anything in Murieta North, South or across the street will be built in our lifetime.  

Approved project maps in the North and South (even with extensions) are close to expiring. Last time around, approvals  took 8 years. Although zoning remains, approval maps die. Any developer who comes back later will have to start over: EIR's, hearings, the works.

Murieta bulid-out?  Never. Gonna. Happen

 

Candy Chand 955 2027 cell

 

 

Bill Clark's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 194
Post rating: 690

Build-out?

"Murieta build-out? Never. Gonna Happen"

  Candy, you have to be careful with words like that as to some it's like a lightening rod.  I'm sure you know well where I'm coming from.  Some will think your anti development.  Add smile here!!

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

Thanks Bill

I appreciate your kind words of advice, Bill. But at this point, I'm no longer concerned what a couple of people think about my position on irresponsible development.

The bottom line is: the developers missed their window of opportunity to build, by refusing to compromise for 8 years, because they knew they had 4 votes in the bag. Unfortunatley, by the time they got that county approval, the economy collapsed out from under them.

I look at it this way:  The developers won the battle (at the county), but lost the war (to build.)

Although, I'm not happy that projects are failing,(nobody wants to see companies go under)  I'm not exactly crying either. At this point, after 8 long years of battling folks who never gave an inch, I just hope the gate doesn't hit them in the rear on their way out.  :)  

 

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

Purple Pipe

Wilbur I agree with your can do attitude on this issue.  It will take leadership and the will to forge a new way and accept responsibility that the future takes planning and not the endless stonewalling litigation of our recent past.  You are correct that it starts with CSD but we can do much within RMA to start the process by installing the infrastructure each time the opportunity presents itself.  This is a fine activity to pursue in the Maintenance Committee in connection with CSD.  Together we can get there and a great first step would be to use what infrastructure we already have in the community. We can start with the new front gate facility surrounding landscaping. 

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Future Planning Leadership

Director Keyes: Fully agree with your comment "It will take leadership...and accept responsibility that the future takes planning". Yet your next comment "and not the endless stonewalling litigation of our recent past", leaves me bewildered. As an informed Director making a public comment, please elaborate on what recent stonewalling litigation, and by what leadership, has prevented such future planning, along with attributal source? Curious members would like to know your thoughts. Thanks. 

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

Happily

Terry,

 

RM has a history of this type of activity going back decades.  From the original lawsuit that led to the letter agreement and then the beloved MBA to threats of lawsuits to either get the bridge built or then open it, the stonewalling of the Freedom of Choice for cable, the litigated interpretation of exclusive use, designing a community center then finding out that we didnt own the land it would be built on, ongoing contentious relationships with the fire department and CSD and the kitchen sink approach to stopping any development here in OZ.  I know that any one of these will bring up opinions but these are just a few examples of how we have learned to not work together as a community and as an association.  We can do better.

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

Andy,

Actually, I thought the community worked together remarkably in our effort to stop irresponsible and poorly proposed development projects.

It's worthy of note that a VP for Warmington Homes said in over 20 years in the business, he'd seen lots of opposition to projects, but had never experienced such an organized and effective effort, like in Murieta.

Although there were a few who sided with the developers (never will everyone agree about anything) , I honestly don't know if the community has ever come together, before or after, with such defined unity.

I'm proud of my neighbor's efforts.  In fact, I think they're heroes.

Candy Chand

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Litigation

Mr. Keyes, thank you for the generalities. Please answer the specific question, as it pertains to your position as our elected representative, and conduct of our business. You referred to "recent stonewalling litigation". What specific recent lawsuit or lawsuits are you referring to?  

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