(Grass Valley, April 28) Bracing for expanding drought conditions and dwindling local water supply, the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Board of Directors proclaimed a drought emergency throughout the District’s service area, which includes portions of Nevada, Placer, Yuba counties. The declaration was made during the Board’s April 28 meeting.
As part of that action, the District moves into its Stage 1 Drought Contingency Plan, which asks customers to conserve 10 percent of their normal water usage.
The adopted resolution noted the action was necessary “to assure continued supply of water for public health and safety, including domestic, irrigation, sanitation, environmental and fire prevention and suppression uses during this drought.”
NID Operations Manager Chip Close noted there are a combination of factors that have created drought conditions within the District: precipitation was well below average in March and April; high winds and above-average temperature have dried the watershed; and irrigation season startup demands are at mid-summer levels.
The conservation measures are necessary to ensure that NID has sufficient end-of-year reserves of water (carryover) in storage to protect its capacity to continue delivering water to all beneficial uses in the succeeding year should the current drought conditions continue.
“A key concern is storage,” Close said. “Staff has re-run the water supply forecast and is concerned that carryover storage volumes at the end of irrigation season will fall to low levels.”
Since March 10, when the Board declared a surplus water supply, conditions have significantly deteriorated such that surplus water conditions no longer exist in the District. In fact, forecasted carryover storage could drop to 110,700 acre-feet. It’s a level not seen since 2001.
The forecasted available water supply is 237,600 acre-feet, which is 24,000 acre-feet less than the March 10 projection of 261,800 acre-feet.
(One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover a football field one foot deep. An average household uses about an acre-foot of water per year for indoor and outdoor use).
“Although the current drought stage is voluntary, we want to emphasize the need for conservation. Everyone’s efficient use of water is necessary to help delay mandatory water use regulations,” Close said.
Besides taking actions to reduce indoor water use, treated water and municipal water customers are asked to limit outdoor irrigation to every other day.
Also, agricultural customers who reduce their purchase allotments for the year are guaranteed their right to return to their previous allotments next year if water supply is available.
NID Directors unanimously supported the declaration and voluntary conservation, and vowed to look into ways to subsidize District water supplies through the purchase of water from Pacific Gas & Electric. Directors also supported the formation of a Drought Hardship Committee. Both topics will be addressed at a near-future Board meeting.