Water conservation: Sonoma County leaders say it’s time to start preparing

Bay Area

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Governor Newsom’s regional drought emergency in Sonoma County hasn’t resulted in any water restriction mandates yet, however, Sonoma’s Water Agency and its county leaders say it’s time to start preparing.

Sonoma County leaders say the emergency drought declaration doesn’t come as a surprise, as we head into the second year of severe drought.

Already, Marin County’s Water Agency became the first in the Bay Area to impose water restrictions Tuesday evening and pretty soon, Sonoma County may follow.

“We’re at a stage right now where at this time of year, the end of April, we’re the lowest in both reservoirs on record history at this time of year,” Grant Davis said.

General manager of Sonoma Water, Grant Davis, says this is a critical time for water conservation as Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, which are both large water sources for the county, sit at extremely low levels ahead of the drier summer months.

Davis explains the current state of Lake Sonoma.

“It is currently at about 60% and holding just around 150,000-acre feet. We have a target of keeping that reservoir above 100,00-acre feet by the end of the year and we’ll need to implement pretty aggressive water diversion reduction out of the Russian River and ultimately the contractors we sell water to which includes Santa Rosa, Petaluma, all the way down to Novato and Marin County, they’re implementing voluntary water conservation efforts at about 20%,” Davis said.

Davis says if they don’t see the results needed from voluntary water conservation efforts, they’ll have to move to widespread mandatory water-use restrictions at the beginning of July.

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin explains what this will mean for residents over the next few months.

“It means to really look at our outdoor irrigation in particular but also to really look at how we are using, consuming, and saving water inside as well. A lot of us have retrofitted our toilets and other water devices such as washing machines so it’s harder and harder to achieve the water savings that we may need this year,”

The drought comes after California’s worst fire season last fall where the LNU Lightning Complex Fire ripped through much of Northern California, reaching Sonoma, Napa, Solano and several other counties.

“I’m also extremely nervous what this means for the fall. Are we going to have fires again? I hope not,”

State water regulators already issued notices to more than 700 vineyards, residential suppliers, and farmers that their water may be curtailed or not available.

Local leaders expect to make movements towards more water conservation in the coming weeks.

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