January 28, 2014

Sacramento Suburban Water District urges voluntary conservation

As drought continues, Sacramento Suburban Water District is the latest in the capital region to call for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in business and household water use.

The Sacramento Suburban Water District is urging all customers to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.

The district board of directors approved the conservation request as part of a “Stage 2 Water Warning” at its meeting Monday night. The measure allows the district general manager to call for steeper conservation measures, without a vote of the board, if the drought worsens.

Although a storm is expected Thursday, bringing the first rainfall to the region since Dec. 7, it is not expected to improve water supplies significantly. Many more such storms are needed.

“As much as we can have our customers reduce their usage, it’s going to be a benefit,” said Daniel York, the district’s assistant general manager.

The conservation order applies to both business and residential customers in the district. Sacramento Suburban is one of the largest water agencies in the region. It serves about 170,000 customers in a vast area straddling Interstate 80, from Fair Oaks Boulevard to north of McClellan Park.

During a Stage 2 Water Warning in the district, landscape irrigation is allowed only twice a week, restaurants may serve water only upon request, and only drought-tolerant plants are allowed in new or expanded landscaping.

The district plans to spend an additional $61,000 to step up enforcement of the conservation request. Normally, it hires two part-time water conservation representatives to conduct water-waste enforcement and education in the six-month warm season, which has not yet begun. Instead, it will immediately hire a total of four people to do this work for 10 months.

York described the conservation measures as a precautionary move.

The district relies mostly on its own groundwater wells to meet customer needs, and those wells are in good shape so far, he said. It also purchases American River water from other agencies, when available, to ease strain on its wells. But it probably won’t have access to that water this year because Folsom Lake is so depleted. In addition, neighboring water agencies may seek groundwater from Sacramento Suburban to help meet water demand if conditions produce a drought emergency later this year.

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