East Bay MUD concerned over low water in Sierras

The East Bay Municipal Utilities District is growing concerned about the little rainfall in the Sierras, which will impact their water supply.
January 3, 2014 6:40:45 PM PST
Gov. Jerry Brown has not declared a drought in California yet, but situations like the one at Lake Mendocino, mean the governor's Advisory Drought Planning Panel will look into it soon. And, water agencies are beginning to get nervous, including the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.

East Bay MUD is not concerned with the water levels at the San Pablo Reservoir, but rather they're concerned with what is happening in the Sierra.

The Pardee Reservoir is the watershed in the Sierra for East Bay MUD. It has collected just over four inches of rain since October.

"Which is 26 percent of average, so less than one-third of what we normally want this time of year," said Andrea Pook from East Bay MUD.

While the agency is concerned about the little rainfall we've had, its reservoirs down below are where they should be.

"We still have 50 percent of the winter ahead of us, so we are monitoring the situation every day and we are hopeful things will improve and if they don't, we do have measures we can take," said Pook.

One of those measures is to draw from its Sacramento River supply. Another is to ask people to conserve even more than they already have. Ironically, water conservation has led to a decline in water sales. That and the cost of investing in its massive infrastructure forced the East Bay MUD board to increase water rates by 20 percent over the next two years.

While a drought has not been declared, these water agencies want people to start thinking about changing their habits. For example, taking five-minute showers instead of 10-minute showers can save 12 gallons.

Quite often people use more water outside. So when you're watering plants, do it deeply and infrequently.

"Really what you would like to do is to water every three or four days for a long time, like 20 minutes at a time, so the water sinks in deeply and that plants roots grow very deeply," said Bonnie Brusseau from Orchard Nursery.

Drought resistant trees and plants save a lot of water.

"Probably looking at more drought resistant plant. I have a hill on the side of my house that has a drip system so I'm looking at more drought tolerant plants," said Kimberly Shaw, a Martinez resident.

She's hoping that like in past years a dry December has led to a wet January.


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