Here we are again-the latest emergency facing Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendo Counties-
I suspect many of you have read the various articles in our local papers, here are a few links to those articles:
Drought forces Sonoma County farmers to make adjustments to crop plans (pressdemocrat.com)
Sonoma County supervisors declare drought emergency (pressdemocrat.com)
Napa prepares city water use curbs in pursuit of 15% consumption cut after dry California winter | Local News | napavalleyregister.com
Marin drought brings echoes of 1976-77 water crisis (marinij.com)
Marin explores revival of Richmond Bridge water pipeline (marinij.com)
Editorial: Marin water shortage demands wiser choices from all – Marin Independent Journal (marinij.com)
Lake County News –
Lake County News,California – Governor declares regional state of emergency for Russian River Watershed due to drought conditions (lakeconews.com)
Mendocino Beacon News-
Drought expanding in California — nearly half the state now affected – The Mendocino Beacon
Ukiah Daily Journal-
Another Voice: Lake Pillsbury, there is no water to waste – The Ukiah Daily Journal
Local water watchers plan drought education – The Ukiah Daily Journal
After reading all these articles and having several discussions with authorities and farmers and contractors, this Soapbox could turn into a small book. So, I do not inundate you with useless history of how Marin got to the critical water infrastructure they have now, I will focus on the “now” rather than the “history”. But the history is fascinating, so I will deal with Marin water decisions in a future Newsletter.
I would like you to know that I am contacting the various water managers in the five Counties to watch what their “next steps” might be. As this takes some time to get return calls, I will publish just what I have for now. Rest assured, if you are bidding work that will last more than a few months into the future, your project could easily have construction water cut off in some of the areas hardest hit. Those areas include Mendo County and Marin County. So far, I am not seeing “draconian” measures taken in Lake, Sonoma, or Napa Counties.
A further word of warning, is that the “chatter” on these various news articles include an awful lot of folks voicing this opinion “if there is not enough water for current residents and businesses, we need to shut down all construction of new houses and businesses, period!”
I just got off the phone with Jared Walker, GM for Willow Water District (the “umbrella admin” over seven water districts in that area), and Jared tells me that Redwood Valley, who has been in severe water shortage crisis mode for 20 or so years, just voted to negate all Ag connections, 55 gallons per day mandatory limits on residential water usage, and no construction water meters. If a fire rebuild is taking place, the water connection should be approved and honored, but no other new hookups for now.
Will all the other local districts follow suit in the Ukiah area? Too early to know for sure. But Jared and I both agreed the best advice for contractors bidding or doing work in this area, is to have contingency plans for water use and to make sure their contracts contain some “wiggle room” for them based upon the possibility/probability of no water use for construction in a widespread area.
Santa Rosa Area:
I also spoke with Lori Urbanek yesterday from the City of Santa Rosa Water Department, and she said they have no plans for restricting construction water at this point. Their protocol is to ask for voluntary reduction of usage and just their public announcement of that, which they had hoped would reduce usage by 20%, has resulted in a 17% reduction in usage. So, it would seem for the time being, that SR will rely on voluntary reductions rather than mandatory for the short term. Lori did say, if we have another dry winter in 2021/22, “all bets are off”. Further discussion with Peter Martin from the City of SR reiterates that their protocol for drought does not restrict issuance of construction water meters.
I have left messages at the Marin Municipal Water District and have not heard back yet. From their website on water restrictions, is this link explaining restrictions in place now—
The MMWD rules say they prohibit the use of potable water for dust control, street cleaning, or sewer flushing. It is not clear if they will allow the use of potable water for water line testing, water line flushing, etc. Needless to say, I will print more info as I get it. From their rules, MMWD does say:
- No using potable water for dust control, sewer flushing or street cleaning.
City of Napa:
Napa is looking to cut usage by 15% and from their website, the usage restrictions do not indicate limiting construction water in any way – so far. Here is the link to the Napa Water Department drought update—
Water Waste Prohibitions | Napa, CA (cityofnapa.org)
As you bid your work, particularly for Mendo County and Marin County, be advised that getting water via normal means during this drought will not be happening for a while. If you are a golfer, your golf courses in Marin will start showing lots of brown areas as they cannot water fairways with potable water for now-only greens and tee areas.
WE NEED SOME RAIN!
That’s all folks!