Sunny California is facing a parched summer as the dreaded drought has returned with a vengeance. Record-setting high temperatures are baking an already parched state, forcing counties to once-again, ration, conserve, and take drastic measures to safeguard a precious resource.
While residents in the Central Valley are familiar with the watering rules, county officials are reminding residents to keep an eye on their water use by only watering their lawns, gardens, etc., on designated watering days.
Common sense rules still apply; water the lawn, not the sidewalk and don’t water in the afternoon.
But with the rain and snow totals coming in at an anemic 47 percent of average in the central Sierra Nevada watersheds — and last year’s totals coming in at 61 percent — the situation is dire enough to warrant attention.
Even if farmers and residents may not feel the pinch just yet.
“While sequential dry years, which we’ve experienced now in 2020 and now in 2021 are problematic for a good portion of the State, not so here in OID. I am pleased to say OID and their constituents will not see any interruption in agricultural water service this year, despite the dismal runoff statewide,” Steve Knell, Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager explained.
Knell said the benefit of strong senior water rights and a water conservation program that was implemented in 2006 and spending tens of millions of dollars in efficiency improvements that were designed to prepare the area for drought, are working as projected.
“It worked well in the 2012-2015 drought and is serving us again in this two-year drought,” Knell said.
However, even with effective water conservation measures, Knell reminded constituents that water is a precious resource and should be used reasonably at all times.
“OID is keeping a watchful eye on next year, and if it is a dry year, there may be some ratcheting down on water supplies depending on the extent of dryness we experience,” he shared. “We don’t particularly count on it being too much of an issue, but you never know what Mother Nature will throw your way, so we have to plan for that contingency.”
The City of Oakdale is also concerned about doing its part to conserve water by taking a proactive approach to helping the community improve their water conservation efforts.
“In the next utility bill mailing the City will be including a flyer in both English and Spanish that provides the outdoor watering schedule and various water conservation tips,” City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said.
Whitemyer added, over the last few years the City has invested in water system upgrades that allows the city to actively monitor water usage in the community.
“For example, we are able to run reports each month that show which addresses may have a leaking faucet, toilet or irrigation system. The City contacts those residents and lets them know that there may be a water leak somewhere in their home or in their yard. Once those leaks are fixed the water usage at the home typically goes down, as does their bill.”
Parks and Recreation crew members are continuously making efforts to irrigate the parks more efficiently. The City has invested in smart meters that notify crews if there are leaks in the various parks and they also use a work order system to identify areas where repairs are needed.
The City also has a Code Enforcement/Water Conservation Officer whose primary goal is to help educate community members on the water rules and to provide tips on how to conserve water. Door hangers are also placed on the front doors of homes where overwatering may be occurring. The door hanger includes information regarding the watering schedule rules.
As another helpful measure, the City also offers the complimentary service of setting irrigation timers for residents. If a resident needs help setting their automatic irrigation timer they can call (209) 845-3600 to set up an appointment for a water maintenance worker to assist them.