Water rationing ‘not on horizon’

With sunny 75-degree days ahead, barbecues hot, picnics packed and that garden ready to till, it’s easy to forget what drought-stricken Sonoma Valley really needs is more rain. As the rainy season wraps up, water officials are planning how to manage water for the rest of this dry year.

On April 7, the Sonoma County Water Agency met with its water contractors from throughout the region, including the City of Sonoma and Valley of the Moon Water District, to provide an update on current reservoir conditions in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, and to determine what efforts need to be made to conserve during the ongoing statewide drought.

SCWA spokeswoman Ann DuBay said the agency and water contractors determined that, although the drought remains, mandatory rationing “does not appear to be on the horizon” for Lake Sonoma users. In Sonoma Valley, a majority of the water supply comes from that water-agency managed reservoir. DuBay said contractors using this supply would continue with voluntary 20 percent water conservation as requested by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.

Winter rains, especially those in February, have made a significant impact on water storage levels, SCWA spokesman Brad Sherwood said. February 2014, he noted, was the 13th wettest February on record and water storage levels and rainfall have surpassed those during the benchmark 1977 drought year.

The outlook for the water agency’s Lake Mendocino reservoir, which is much smaller than that at Lake Sonoma to begin with, is less positive, DuBay said. The Ukiah region is still facing one of the driest years on record and areas that rely on water from Lake Mendocino and the upper Russian River, from Healdsburg and above, will continue with the mandatory conservation efforts already in place as issued through their water contractors.

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