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Dry Weather Prompts Water Services District to 'Plan for the Worst'

Residents are asked to use water wisely as rates may increase if an official water shortage is declared

Photo Credit: Morguefile
Photo Credit: Morguefile
Like the rest of us in California, the officials at the Dublin San Ramon Services District cannot tell whether or not the dry weather will continue to keep its crippling stranglehold on what should be the Bay Area's rainy season.

In order to prepare for the high likelihood of a fully dry rainy season, the water district recently released a statement intended to prepare customers for the possibility of an official water shortage.

As residents look to the skies and wait for answers, the district asks that customers use their water wisely and conserve when possible.

[Related article: Dublin Experiences Driest Year on Record]

Northern California finished 2013 with the driest rainfall year on record and 2014 has yet not brought on the storms.

Full statement released by the Dublin San Ramon Services District:

As of mid-January, Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), like water agencies up and down California, is closely watching for signs that the prolonged dry weather will change. On average, about half of California’s statewide precipitation occurs in December, January and February. Other water years have started dry and ended with normal or above-normal precipitation. However, each dry day that passes makes it less likely that will happen.

“If we were to apply the National Weather Service forecast system to this situation,” says DSRSD General Manager Bert Michalczyk, “I’d say there is a 100% chance that this will be a dry year. The question that remains is, how dry will it really be? We are monitoring the situation very closely and hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.”

Actions the DSRSD Board could consider range from extensive outreach to encourage further conservation to formally declaring a water shortage situation with mandated conservation actions. These are explained on the District’s website at http://www.dsrsd.com/waterconservation/stageoneshortage.html

Currently, District water rates are based on “normal conditions,” meaning the District is encouraging its customers to use water wisely and maintain the level of water use reduction they have achieved over the past decade. If water supply conditions worsen and the Board of Directors determines the District needs to reduce water use, the Board would declare the District to be in one of four water shortage stages running from a 10 percent reduction in “Stage 1” to 40 percent or greater in “Stage 4.” Stage 1 means there is a reasonable probability that the water supply will not be adequate to meet all demands; Stage 4 means the District projects it would be unable to maintain an adequate water supply for health and safety. If the Board decides a Water Shortage situation exists, it also means rates will increase depending on the Stage (for details, see the rate tables at http://www.dsrsd.com/your_water_services/water_ratescharges.html).  

Wait and see, but also conserve

For now, DSRSD strongly encourages its customers to use water efficiently, particularly outdoors. In the Tri-Valley’s dry climate, landscaping soaks up more than half of the water used by single-family homes. At this time of the year plants need little water even if the weather is dry. Irrigation recommendations are posted on the District website at http://www.dsrsd.com/waterconservation/irrigation.html.

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