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The CSD won't require Murietans to cut lawn watering to twice a week after a legal opinion said the state's water proclamation cutbacks were voluntary, not mandatory.

Residents will be able to water their landscaping up to three times a week despite a proclamation from Governor Brown that calls for limiting outdoor watering to a maximum of twice a week. Although the Rancho Murieta Community Services District initially viewed compliance as a given, a legal opinion from district legal counsel now has the CSD viewing the water use provisions as requests, not mandates.

“The governor’s proclamation says ‘should,’ and it lists several items that you could do to help reduce wasted water,” General Manager Ed Crouse said during a brief discussion at the CSD Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.

Referring to a legal opinion from district counsel, Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said the proclamation’s water use terms are “not a mandatory requirement to comply, but it’s a request.”

Siebensohn added that the district is “still in the Stage 1 water warning, requesting 10 percent cutbacks” in water use.

“I’m a little ticked off. Why would we think we’re above the state?” said Director Bobbi Belton, reacting to the legal opinion. “I think we’re playing with numbers to benefit a handful of people who don’t care at what cost they can have lush lawns.” As for limiting watering to two days a week, “I think we can all live with that,” Belton said.

When the proclamation was discussed at the Improvements Committee meeting last week, CSD President Jerry Pasek took a different view. "The problem I got with the twice a week is landscaping will really go to hell. … The lawns won't survive," he said.

At last week’s session, the discussion centered on complying with specific provisions of the state proclamation.  Information distributed at the meeting highlighted limiting outdoor watering of landscaping to no more than twice a week.

Correspondence from Amy Marie Talbot of the Regional Water Authority -- a multi-agency body which counts the CSD among its members -- covered requirements and the expectation that CSD would report its drought activities and their effectiveness, part of the requirements of the state proclamation.

At its April 16 meeting, the CSD board of directors rejected a staff recommendation to keep the community's drought response at Stage 2, requiring a 20 percent cutback in water usage. The drought response was reduced to a Stage 1 water alert with a conservation goal of 10 percent. The board action added a third watering day per week effective May 1.

During the first quarter of 2014, when the Stage 2 drought response was in effect, water use declined a total of 8.8 percent from the same period last year.

The reduction in the drought response to Stage 1 wasn’t due to the community’s conservation efforts, as the letter the CSD sent to customers made clear.  “The Directors took this action because the late season winter storms produced enough precipitation to allow the District to fill the storage reservoirs to capacity,” it reads.

Last year, the CSD budgeted for a reduction in water use and raised rates to compensate for the anticipated loss in revenue.  2013 was a record dry year, and water use increased, producing surplus revenue. The draft budget for 2014-15 uses a water conservation rate of 8 percent and has a rate increase to compensate for the expected loss of revenue.

The response to dry conditions has been to water more, even during the winter months.

Siebensohn noted in his monthly report on field operations that the average usage per customer connection was 355 gallons per day in December 2013 versus 231 in December 2012, and concluded, “it appears people have begun irrigating again.”

At the March board meeting, General Manager Ed Crouse referred to a consultant's memo showing higher water use in December, January and February, and said, "It was just dry and warm, and residents felt the need to irrigate because there was no natural precipitation."

At the same meeting, Assistant General Manager Darlene Gillum noted that water use in January this year was 30 percent higher than January 2013. "Last year, January and February 2013, were extremely high use (months)," said Gillum.  "And even with our 28 percent reduction, we're still almost 12 percent higher than we were last year."

The rains that enabled the CSD to fill the reservoirs began in February, when Cosumnes River flows rose to a point where diversion into the reservoirs was allowed.


Bunky Svendsen's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 165
Post rating: 210

I think we are due a refund

Lets see if I am reading this correctly. CSD Increased our water rates in 2013 on the premise that we would be using less water and thus less revenue. But in fact, we used more water in 2013 and CSD received surplus revenue. And they are going to do it again this year despite the fact that our reservoirs are full. I think we are due a refund and a reset to 2013 or earlier rates.

Bunky Svendsen's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 165
Post rating: 210

surplus

I want to know what they are going to do with the surplus. Are they going to give everyone a raise? Or are the going to give it back to the community where it belongs?

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745

We are still conserving..

Though it is true that our reservoirs are full, it doesn't mean that we should go back to wasting water as many in this community have done in the past. Clearly, since we are an two people household, we will use less water, however, we also are on an all drip system, with a good timer, and we also have drought resistant plants. Even if you have several more people in your house, there are many things that can be done to conserve water so it doesn't just go down the drain. No one knows what is going to happen next winter, maybe there will be an El Nino, and maybe there won't...so we must be very careful. Thinking that we can just go back to the past, just because we have water now, is irresponsible and short sighted....IMHO..

Myrna Solomon

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

So you think we're out of the woods....

For those who think just because our reservoirs are full, we don't have a drought any longer...

"the most comparable recent one would be the drought of 1976-77. But the impacts today are more intense because the state's population has doubled since then while the state's water supply has remained fixed"  said climatologist Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/05/15/california-drought/9124...

 

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

What happened to Stage 2

I was poking around on YouTube today looking for aerial views of R.M. and came across this CSD video. I find it kinda ironic that in March we were in a  Stage 2 drought and by May the CSD Board decides all is good and we can be in Stage 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZhRGmWfmcE

 

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Post rating: 745

I wondered this also!!

As I walk around Rancho Murieta I see so many people watering their lawns on Saturday and Sunday, and during the day on Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and when ever they want.. Many out here think that the water in our resorviors will last forever, even though we had a small amout of rain in the spring, and the CSD filled them up.  I wonder who pressured the CSD to change the restrictions from stage 2 to stage 1, even though nothing had changed. Why did the county approve new development, a new hotel that will use huge amounts of water when we are in a horrible draught, convince the CSD board to approve the building of the expansion of our treatment plant that is only beneficial to the developers who build the rest of the houses in this community. And I wonder why the Sullivan group paid such a small amount considering that the expansion is only for them. Clearly we needed some repairs, but not the expansion. While some of us are conserving water at our homes, many think that they don't have to conserve any amount..Look at peoples lawns, if it is very green, you know that they don't think they have to conserve at all....and so...I wonder, when will CSD and the board finally get some backbone, and protect our water for everyone here...before it is too late. 

Myrna Solomon

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Post rating: 706

Yup - watering on wrong days

Yup, I see it too...many watering on wrong days and at what ever time they want.  And then there are those that I see watering ever single day.   I don't know whether another reminder with the times and days needs to go out.  I have talked to some friends who still were on the old schedule (wrong days)...I have let them know the new schedule.

Marklin Brown's picture
Joined: 08/12/2007
Posts: 196
Post rating: 104

Development/ Drought

I have not yet figured out the formula for (development + drought = water).

Einstein, I'm not

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