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Water agency: Valley won’t run out of water

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With buzz across the state that some areas may run out of water, Sonoma County Water Agency officials say water will continue to flow out of Sonoma Valley taps.

A recent report by California public health officials identified 17 towns and water districts at risk of running out of water in the next 100 days if nothing is done to enhance their supplies. The threatened areas are mostly in rural areas, relying on various water sources from wells to rivers, with a dry 2013 leaving their supplies lower than ever.

Sonoma Valley, according to water agency spokesman Brad Sherwood, is protected from running out of water because of the reservoir at Lake Sonoma. Currently, the reservoir is holding around 167,000 acre-feet of water, enough to sustain the Valley for several years. “Right now, Lake Sonoma is doing its job. We would be at that point (of running out of water) if it weren’t for Lake Sonoma.”

However, he said, the agency will implement mandatory conservation and request state aid if water levels dip below predetermined standards.

“We will not let our customers run out of water,” Sherwood said. “The question becomes what kind of mandatory conservation measures will be ordered in mid-spring if these dry conditions persist?”

On Monday, Sherwood said, the SCWA General Manager Grant Davis will ask water managers to implement a 20-percent voluntary water reduction.

Sonoma City Engineer and Director of Public Works Dan Takasugi said the city will discuss an immediate, voluntary, 15-percent water reduction at its meeting Monday, Feb. 3. The conservation effort will be reevaluated, he said, in March, and if the Valley does not get the rain it needs, mandatory conservation will go into effect.

The situation is much more dire in Sonoma County’s northernmost cities, Cloverdale and Healdsburg.

The two towns, which rely on groundwater from the Russian River and the SCWA-managed reservoir, Lake Mendocino, are at risk of running out of water. At the turn of the year, the water agency noted Lake Mendocino was critically low.

Some Mendocino County water districts and cities that use Lake Mendocino water are also listed in the state’s report. Other areas could be added if the dry weather persists.

  • Fred Allebach

    Just for clarity’s sake: The Sonoma County Water Agency only delivers water to its contracting entities, the city and the VOM Water District. Sonoma Valley has a lot more water users than that. The rest of us are not in any water district, so the SCWA or reporter cannot legitimately say ‘water will continue to flow out of Sonoma Valley taps’. And in fact, since Sonoma no longer sells water out of its hydrants, the out-of-city water system where i live may run of water this weekend, owing to a dry well and trouble finding a delivery source.

    A better headline would be: Valley already running out of water but SCWA contractors safe for the time being.

    • Phineas Worthington

      Always positive and optimistic with ideas for solutions as usual.

  • Jennifer Marshall

    I agree with Fred Allebach but want to add it is a naive statement to state “water will continue to flow out of Sonoma Valley taps”. Lake Sonoma may be only for certain users as it is today, but in dire needs this water will need to be shared around. Statements such as that will lead the ignorant masses to continue to use their water as thay always have because ” oh we wont run out” thoughts put in their head. We all must not only conserve, but take extra steps to conserve even more. Water conservation must become a way of life. One small easy way to start conserving is saving one of those 1 gallon juice or milk containers. When you are running kitchen sink water to get warm water, capture all the cold water and pour it in your water kettle, or use it on your plants or dog water bowls, etc… USE that water, don’t just let it run down the drain because it is cold.

    • Elisa Stancil

      Worthwhile ideas, fabulous!

  • Phineas Worthington

    Lake Sonoma is a man made lake. We need more storage like it.

  • bill brinton

    Please ask your reporter to reconcile the comments of SCWA Chief Engineer Jay Jasperse at the Jn. 22 advisory Commission meeting where Lake Sonoma was not mentioned as a source of water for us. Jay’s comments were quoted in the Kenwood Press Feb 1 page 1 article.

  • Kirsten Lindquist

    At the January 22nd meeting of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission, Sonoma County Water Agency Chief Engineer Bill Jasperse named two areas in the valley where static water levels in wells have dropped more than 100 feet in recent years. The rural east side of Sonoma is one of them as is another area in The Springs. He also said ground water on the southern end of the valley has greater levels of arsenic and boron than previously found and that saline content is increasing as water from San Pablo Bay finds its way up the valley. I hope to see another Index Tribune story on the drought and it’s impact in our Valley with a close look at our groundwater supply.