Water & Drought

Sacramento area gears up for drought restrictions

Folsom Dam is seen from the shoreline at Beal's Point in late April. The city announced plans Wednesday to comply with new state water cutbacks.
Folsom Dam is seen from the shoreline at Beal's Point in late April. The city announced plans Wednesday to comply with new state water cutbacks. rpench@sacbee.com

One day after California regulators imposed historic cutbacks in urban water use, a Sacramento suburb announced its plan Wednesday for meeting the targets.

The city of Folsom said it will reduce watering in parks by one third, as well as take other steps.

Folsom has been ordered to cut water use by 32 percent, part of the state’s plan to reduce urban consumption by an average 25 percent.

Each of the state’s 411 urban water agencies has been assigned a different reduction target, based on existing water usage. The cities with the heaviest per-capita consumption will have to save the most: 36 percent.

The new rules, established Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, will hit the Sacramento area and other inland regions the hardest. Those cities had argued that they were being penalized for being located in the state’s hottest and driest regions. But state officials said those cities’ residents are using too much water on their lawns and have to cut back.

“It’s eminently doable,” water board Chair Felicia Marcus said on a conference call with reporters early Wednesday. “Is it easy? No. But it is doable.”

She said the key to surviving the drought this summer is “putting the lawn on a water diet.” State officials say outdoor use accounts for 50 percent to 80 percent of residential consumption.

The expected savings are based on 2013 usage figures. That means cities that have already achieved some reductions have a head start, Marcus said. “Those cities ... are already well along the way,” Marcus said.

Folsom, for instance, cut its water usage by 21 percent last year. It has to find another 11 percentage points of savings in order to comply with the state’s order. The order takes effect June 1 and runs through next February.

In Folsom, city parks will get less water, although sports fields and other “high-traffic areas” will remain green. The children’s water parks at three city parks, Kemp, Livermore and Nisenan, will be closed.

“The ‘spraygrounds’ will not be in operation this summer,” said city spokeswoman Christine Brainerd. But the Folsom Aquatic Center will open May 23.

The city also plans to rip turf out of more than 30 road medians, taking out a total of 1.5 acres of vegetation. Ornamental streetscapes that don’t have trees will go without water.

“It will be a bit of a give and take, but I believe we can band together and strike a balance in order to maintain the high quality of our community while remaining environmentally responsible and in compliance with state regulations,” said Folsom Mayor Andy Morin in a prepared statement.

The city also reminded residents that Folsom’s lawn-watering restrictions continue. Residents are limited to two days a week of outdoor watering, with odd-numbered addresses on Tuesdays and Saturdays and even-numbered addresses on Wednesdays and Sundays, Brainerd said.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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