Drought alters watering methods

Alternative watering methods may increase in importance as the California drought continues and the push to conserve grows.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency Jan. 17 after three consecutive dry years, calling 2013 the driest year in California history. In Sonoma County, 7.67 inches of rain fell in 2013, marking 20 percent of the area’s average rainfall, and reservoirs across the state, including Sonoma County Water Agency-managed Lake Mendocino, are critically low. State officials are reporting rivers and reservoirs are below record lows and the state’s snowpack is at only 20 percent of its average for January.

While announcing the drought emergency, the governor asked Californians – residents and businesses alike – to curb water usage by 20 percent in an effort to conserve.

Sonoma County 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin said the county has weathered a drought situation in the past in which water usage was cut back by 15 percent through voluntary efforts.

For now, water conservation is voluntary, but if the drought continues, water managers, including the City of Sonoma and Valley of the Moon Water District, could implement mandatory conservation through Urban Water Management Plans.

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