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County Coordinating Agency Drought Response

April 11, 2014

Despite a series of storms that dropped precipitation onto Placer County after an exceptionally dry winter, seasonal rainfall totals remain low for a third consecutive year. At the beginning of this year, with low reservoir levels and a meager Sierra snowpack, the county began working with Western Placer County water agencies on how to deal with the drought. Not being a water purveyor or holder of water rights, the county formed a drought task force and serves as a coordinator with affected entities and the public.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, myriad county departments briefed the Board on efforts to conserve water, explain activities with water purveyors, review existing policy and contemplate potential future actions, both at the local and state levels. The Board received the update and had dialogue with the departments on efforts to conserve water during the current drought, and activities to analyze the effects of potential future conservation requirements should the Board implement them.

The departments that presented the Board with summaries of both current and future actions were the:

Community Development Resource Agency; Parks and Grounds Division; Agricultural Commissioner; Department of Public Works; Treasurer-Tax Collector; Planning; Office of Emergency Services; Building Services; and Environmental Health.

Topics that were discussed included: the use of gray water for irrigation; permit activity for new or deeper wells; the use of mPower low-interest loans for water conservation devices and systems; more efficient use of agricultural water; drought effects on livestock ranchers; increasing the use of non-potable water for grading and county vehicle and heavy equipment washing; updating irrigation systems for county parks; the installation of a central irrigation control system; consideration of policy changes to require more water efficiency in development and a more widespread use of reclaimed water.

The various departments spoke to existing policy, codes and laws that aid in water conservation and engaged with the supervisors in discussions on potential changes that could influence future water savings. These discussions include residential and commercial buildings. 

Tuesday’s presentations came at the behest of the Supervisors who directed staff in early February to come back to the Board with an update on the water situation throughout Placer County. Back in February, the Board expressed concern about the drought and directed staff to review all current actions, identifying potential programs, regulations, and other actions that could support more sustainable water conservation efforts throughout the County.

For additional information, please visit these websites: Placer County Drought; Placer County Water Agency; Nevada Irrigation District; San Juan Water District; . Department of Water Resources; State Water Resources Control Board; and the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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