• Low on water

    By Joe Fabeets

    Winter is over and the results are in. If this year’s precipitation were a homework assignment, the student would be getting a C minus. According to the California Department of Water Resources website, 2008-09 is the third consecutive dry year for the state, with below average precipitation and runoff beginning in the fall of 2006. The current drought is rated “severe,” which means communities without adequate water supplies may have to enact mandatory conservation practices. The next stage would be a full-scale, “extreme” red alert.

    In the meantime, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has pledged $260 million in federal stimulus money to help California address its water shortages and aging infrastructure. This includes new groundwater wells, rock barriers to improve water quality in the Delta and fish screens at Red Bluff Diversion Dam and at the Contra Costa Canal. An extra $135 million will be available for grants for water reuse and recycling projects. The money comes from $1 billion announced by the Bureau of Reclamation for water projects intended to create jobs across the western U.S. No date has been set for actual availability of funds.

    Here are some statistics from the CDWR regarding precipitation between July 1, 2008 and April 1, 2009. Out of 12 reservoirs around the state, the highest is New Bullards Bar on the Yuba River at 80 percent of capacity. The lowest is Lake Isabella on the Kern River at only 25 percent. In rainfall, San Francisco shows a season total of 14.56 inches, which is 79 percent of normal. Bakersfield received a drizzling 4.13 inches – which is still 72 percent of their season average.

    Locally, Pacific Grove has had 12.78 inches. Meanwhile, bloggers in Big Sur are reporting a season total of 34.75 inches.

    Cedar Street Times contacted Catherine Bowie of California American Water External Affairs. Ms. Bowie stated that, although a severe drought does exist in California this year, Pacific Grove does have an adequate water supply. “We have a rationing plan in place. This is a joint plan between California American Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District,” Bowie said. “It’s called a Joint Standby Conservation and Rationing Plan. It lays out the various triggers in terms of available water supply to place our community into water rationing. And we haven’t met those triggers this year.”

    Nevertheless, the Monterey Peninsula operates under a constant Stage One water conservation program. “We always have regulatory restrictions on our water supply, even when the rainfall is plentiful,” Bowie added. “It’s important for people to understand that the Monterey Peninsula is very isolated in terms of its water supply. We don’t receive any water from the State or federal water projects. We draw from the Carmel Valley Aquifer and the Seaside groundwater basin. We are completely dependent on local rainfall. We’ve had some critically dry years, but this year, we actually had enough rain to augment our supply to a point where rationing will not be required.”

    Here are the restrictions for Stage One conservation:


    • Even-numbered addresses water on Sundays and Wednesdays.
    • Odd-numbered addresses water on Saturdays and Thursdays.
    • Drain and refill swimming pools or spas only to prevent or correct structural damage, or to comply with health regulations.
    • Potable water may not be used for washing buildings, driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts or other hard surfaces.
    • Use automatic shut-off nozzles on the hose when hand-washing a vehicle.
    • Fountains and ponds must re-circulate water.
    • Leaks, breaks or plumbing malfunctions must be repaired promptly.
    • Report changes in the number of permanent residents in a home to Cal-Am Water.


    • Water must be served only upon request in any restaurant, hotel, café, cafeteria or public place where food is sold or served.
    • All visitor-serving non-residential uses must have ultra-low flush toilets, showers and faucets.
    • Visitor-serving public and quasi-public facilities must promote water conservation in all restrooms, kitchens and dining areas.
    • Property managers of rental properties must provide notification to tenants of water waste rules.
    • Fire hydrants may only be used without a meter for fire suppression or utility maintenance.
    • Report changes in use of non-residential property to Cal-Am Water.

    For more information, contact:
    Cal-Am Water, 831-646-3205/
    Monterey Peninsula Water Management District,

    By the time you read this, National Drinking Water Week will be concluding. It’s designed to promote understanding of our water systems and natural resources and to raise public awareness of the fundamental need for safe and reliable drinking water supplies.

    Other Water Conservation Tips

    – Don’t leave the sink running while you brush your teeth.
    – Fully load the dishwasher and clothes washer before running them. 
    – Consider landscapes that use native or drought-resistant plants that do not require much water. 
    – Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.
    – Install water-efficient appliances in your home. Look for the EPA WaterSense labels, and check with California American Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to take advantage of available rebates. For more information call the California American Water local conservation office at (831) 646-3205. 
    – Don’t over-water your landscape, and water early in the morning (before 9 am) or at night (after 5 pm) to avoid excess evaporation. Watering your lawn when the sun is high and hot can actually burn the grass and create dead spots.  
    – When the driveway or sidewalk needs cleaning, use a broom instead of a hose. That is already required under current Monterey Peninsula water restrictions, and can save up to 80 gallons of water.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 8, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News, Cameron Douglas


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