Editorial: Don’t forget, water rationing is still in place
The pitter patter of rain hit even harder than Will Smith’s now-famous Oscar slap on Sunday night, as social media became awash with the same excitable sentiment: “It’s RAINING!”
As it stands now, the first two months of 2022 were the driest in 128 years of records, with only a pittance of precipitation recorded so far. Our county reservoir Lake Sonoma sits at 59.6% of capacity, versus 63.4% in 2021, or 89.7% in 2020. With conditions like these, it’s no surprise that we’re heading into another drought year. And possibly a severe wildfire season.
What might be surprising to some, however, is that fact that we remain in a “Stage 2 Mandatory Water Conservation Shortage,” a classification of water restriction that comes with certain rules and regulations.
– Irrigation is limited to the hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday and Thursday nights only.
– Hosing down the driveway is not allowed. Nonrecirculating ornamental fountains is prohibited for commercial customers is prohibited. New swimming pools won’t be authorized unless the water is sourced from outside Sonoma’s potable water system. Existing pools must be covered to minimize evaporation.
– Water leaks must be repaired within 72 hours.
– “Dust control, compaction and other construction” are only allowed to use recycled water.
All of these restrictions aim to bolster the required 20% reduction in water usage, a request that ensures we keep every necessary last drop in our reservoirs. These restrictions usually fall be the wayside in the wetter months, but have remained in place as the drought continues to plague the state.
“The North Bay on average is 10% less than normal. It’s not good. Had it not been for those storms in October and December, we’d really be in bad shape,” National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Gass told the Press Democrat.
Some help is on the way, although it may end up feeling like a drop in the bucket when all things are said and done.
Last week, the state of California bestowed $31 million on Sonoma County for drought relief efforts, the bulk of which went to Cloverdale and Healdsburg, both cities that heavily rely on water from the dwindling Russian River. But more than $3 million was awarded to the Valley of the Moon Water District, money that will be used for aquifer storage and water recovery projects. It’s a great influx of cash, but the state will need to do much more if we’re going to see any meaningful change.
It’s a growing problem, as of last week, 60% of the nation experienced drought conditions — in March no less. So pick a 3-minute song to keep those short showers on track, we’re going to be here a while.