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Rancho Murieta stores water in reservoirs during the wet season and uses the water during the dry season. Current Lake Calero levels reflect the community's water use since diversions from the Cosumnes River ended in May.  Even at lower levels, the lake still offers recreation and fishing on a warm winter Saturday.

In response to the dry winter, the Community Services District issued a water update Friday. The CSD says the community’s reservoirs are 70 percent full, but water diversions into the reservoirs haven’t started yet because the Cosumnes River flow isn’t high enough. There’s enough winter left to catch up with reservoir levels, the CSD says, but you’re asked to help by using water wisely.

Some tips:

  • Before watering, check to see if your landscaping actually needs water. Most plants need less water this time of the year. If your lawn is dormant in winter, it may not need water.
  • If you water, do it carefully, and don’t overwater.
  • Use your water-consuming household appliances wisely. Build up a full load before washing clothes or dishes.

The National Weather Service predicts a change in the Sacramento area weather pattern by the second half of next week. The forecasters see a series of weather systems starting midweek, each dipping farther south. Some of these could be good rain producers and return us to normal winter temperatures, they say.

Here’s the full text of the CSD’s water update:

Rancho Murieta Dry Winter Water Update

Many have likely read recent news articles about the abnormally dry winter so far. And many have wondered how does it affect the District’s water supply.

Our reservoirs are 70% full (Chesbro and Clementia are nearly full, while Calero is down as it is the main source) as of early January, which is less than last year but greater than 2009. We need to add about 1,400 acre‐feet between now and the end of May to fill the reservoirs.

Unfortunately, given the lack of rain and snow, we have not been able to begin diversions. Our normal practice is to begin river diversions in December or January when rivers flows are steady and clear, primarily the result of snowmelt. The state also mandates a minimum river flow rate before we can pump and it has not been met yet.

We are allowed to ramp up diversion rates later in the season to catch up for lost time. We are actively monitoring river flows and storm predictions. Although we are getting a late start, we are confident we can refill the reservoirs by the end of May. We will keep you informed of our progress.

In the meantime you can help us. Many of you have restarted your irrigation systems. We understand your concern for your lawn and landscaping, but we suggest you use water wisely.

Here are some tips to consider.

  • Plants do not need as much water this time of year, even without rain. Lower temperatures, shorter daylight hours and moisture from fog and rain all combine to reduce the water demands of typical landscape. Often little, if any, irrigation is needed. Edible gardens and fruit bearing trees have special water requirements, so please consult with a landscape professional or your local Master Gardener for more information.
  • Before turning on your irrigation system, check the soil to see and feel if it is still moist by using a garden trowel or shovel to dig down about three (3) to six (6) inches. If the soil is dry several inches or more below the surface, water the landscape one (1) day per week.
  • Apply the “soak and cycle” method, which means to water your landscape on that one (1) day and let the water soak into the soil for about an hour. Then use a trowel or shovel again to check the soil moisture. If the soil is moist to depth of three (3) inches or so, you have probably watered enough. If the soil is only moist down to a depth of one (1) inch or two (2), you may need to irrigate a little longer.
  • Understand that if you have the type of lawn that is dormant in the winter, it will not likely need supplemental water.
  • Once the rains begin, remember to turn the irrigation system off again.
  • Use your dish/clothes washers when you have a full load rather than more frequently.

The variations in rainfall from year to year are a constant reminder for all of us to use only what we need.

  • Having enough water is critical to the Sacramento region and California’s economy.
  • Our water use affects the rivers, lakes and streams that help make the Sacramento region unique.
  • Rain or shine, we should be good stewards of our water resources to ensure it is available today and for future generations.

For more information about free water use efficiencies and rebates, as well as conservation tips, residents can visit the District’s website at www.RMCSD.com or visit the Be Water Smart website at www.bewatersmart.com.

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Golf courses experience dry-weather problems

Dry weather is also affecting the golf courses. Rich Scholes, Rancho Murieta Country Club greens superintendent, sent out an advisory to club members Saturday concerning extreme conditions caused by the lack of rain, frost at night and record high temperatures during the day.  If rain doesn't start falling, the club will limit golf carts to paved paths to protect dry, brittle grass on the courses from permanent damage, according to the advisory, which follows.

January 14, 2012

During the last six weeks, we have experienced "extreme" conditions with no rain, frost nearly each morning, yet record high temperatures in the afternoon. This has caused some concern for the long term health of the turf on both courses.

The frost has been a love/hate relationship. The good news is that frost makes the turf go dormant and reduces the plant's need for water. The bad news is that frost actually translocates a small amount of water from the root zone to the soil surface where it evaporates. The leaf blades become dry and brittle, thus breaking off with cart traffic. As the leaf blades break off, the crown or growing part of the turf is exposed and permanent damage can occur.   This results in dry bare soil with no re-growth potential.
If we receive no rain, it will be necessary to implement the black flag (all carts restricted to the paths) to help preserve our turf during these extreme conditions and provide you with great turf quality in the Spring and Summer. Your help and cooperation is greatly appreciated.

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