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Wendell Peart
06/26/2014 1:20 PM

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s the hardship of the drought is begining to manifest its effect of less water for everyone, people are asking, “What are the workable solutions to the drought dilemma?” The short answer is — water conservation.

The San Francisco Chronicle, on June 17, ran a full-page artricle on drought, “Front yards are the front line in drought,” it began. The article was about what the City of Dublin was requiring as its solutions to minimize the waste of water. The green lawns of the residents became the first victims of the effort to save water. It was soon realized that 50 percent of the household water went for watering grass in residential yards. However, the savings in Dublin paled when compared to the water conservation now in effect in the City of Roseville. Roseville’s water-saving program of turning the front yards into yards of drought-resistant plants is estimated to be saving approximately 73 percent of the city’s water.

The Chronicle pointed out that “suburbs like Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore” have some of the strictest rules in California for water conservation. However, the City of Dublin, when compared with Amador County, has a lavish use of water. The Chronicle reported, “The local water district caps consumption at 640 gallons per day per home as well as limiting outdoor watering to two days a week.”

The Amador Water Agency, by contrast, now delivers only 200 gallons per day per household and is asking its water users to volunatarily use 20 percent less. Fulfillment of this request to further reduce water use would result in a household in Amador receiving only 160 gallon per day. This sacrifice on the part of the Amadorians means we are giving up 75 percent more water than the city dwellers of Dublin. Furthermore, our water bills will not go down, because the Amador Water Agency’s costs are pretty much fixed. When one considers that the City of Roseville has a program that saves 73 per cent of water and Amador Water Agency is moving to save 75 per cent as comparred to Dublin, then the City of Dublin has a way to go. The Chronicle quoted Mike O’Sullivan, a Dublin resident, “whose lawn is the greenest on his block, He says he continues to water nearly every day because he’s unconvinced that the drought is as severe as the water district has proclaimed. Officials with the Dublin San Ramon Service District say the problem is real. The agency gets most of its water from the State Water Project, which has reduced water distribution this year because of low mountain runoff.

The operations of the Amador Water Agency, insofar as water curtailment today, as contrasted to the mind set as recent as 1997, tell a far different story. A letter sent to me by AWA’s general manager, dated April 16, 1997, in part, reads as follows: “Since your main interest is in water supply, you may be interested to know that both (Central Amador Water Project and the Amador Water System) of these systems draw water from the Mokelumne River. The Mokelumne River’s normal flow is approximately 700,000 acre feet per year. A drought year flow is approximately 250,000 acre feet per year. Since the Amador Water Agency has very early priority rights and is backed by guaranteess by PG&E, this allows us a large safety margin before our customers would be affected by drought conditions, if ever.”

This general manager has apparently not read about Bob Reed, Manager of the El Dorado County Water Agency who wrote in the U.C. Davis Magazine/July-August 1990 issue, an article, “Outdated Water Plan Puts Drain On Future Needs.”

A key paragraphy read: The keys to addressing Califonria;’s water supply development challenge are no different from keys to solving most problems: communication, education, planning and implementation. Federal, state and local policymakers must work together so that conflicting goals and objectives can be reconciled. The California Water Plan should be overhauled immediately given the costs and complexities of developing new water supplies today. Water agencies should have a stronger voice in land use planning.” This last sentence says it all. (To be continued)

Wendell G. Peart, DVM, is a former member of the Amador Water Resource Advisory Committee.

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