NID maintains a drought plan to identify and respond to potential and actual water shortage conditions. Depending on the severity of these impacts, the District will implement stages that are identified with projected impacts on demand reduction or supply augmentation.
The stages are necessary to ensure a continued supply of water for public health and safety, including domestic, irrigation, sanitation, environmental and fire prevention and suppression uses during this drought.
Currently, NID is operating under Stage 1.
What are the Stages during a drought emergency?
When do the water shortage stages take effect?
NID will declare a water shortage emergency within its service area boundaries when it determines through its best judgement that normal demands and requirements of its customers cannot be met with the projected supplies.
Once a water shortage stage has been declared, NID will enforce compliance through measures commensurate with each reduction goal. The District will either implement measures per this plan or will provide further discrete requirements through ordinances.
Measures will be enforced through the following procedures, in addition to any enforcement measures identified in ordinances. NID will modify and adjust the compliance strategy as necessary for each respective situation.
- A written warning will be issued for a first violation.
- A District imposed fine of $250 for a second violation, and any subsequent violation, and doubling with each subsequent violation up to a maximum of $1,000 for any single violation.
- Upon a fourth violation, or upon an earlier violation the General Manager determines to create a significant threat to the goals of the ordinance, the General Manager may order the installation of a flow restrictor on service lines in question.
- Similar penalties, fines and charges may be implemented by the District as needed to enforce the restrictions on specific prohibition water uses.
Drought Hardship Committee
Upon declaration of a Stage 2 shortage, NID will appoint and convene the Drought Hardship Committee. The Drought Hardship Committee is an advisory body and shall consist of one appointee from each director’s division and the Water and Hydroelectric Operations (WHO) Board Committee. District Operation’s staff will work closely with the committee.
The Drought Hardship Committee’s purpose is to review the applications and determine whether additional water can be provided to the applicant. Before any appeal for a variance can be heard by the Drought Hardship Committee, the customer must submit a Drought Hardship Application and provide proof the water is being used for commercial agricultural purposes.
The definition of commercial agriculture is an agricultural producer engaged in a for profit operation with a minimum gross annual sales of $3,000 and a minimum capital investment of $15,000. Commercial agricultural producers file a Schedule F with the Internal Revenue Service for their farming or ranching operation.
Preference will be given to applicants with an economic hardship and/or those utilizing best management practices and with efficient irrigation practices in place. Variances may be approved for increases in water deliveries, seasonal variances or other protocols as determined by the Drought Hardship Committee. No such variance or appeal, however, shall be granted if the Board of Directors finds that the variance or appeal will adversely affect the public health or safety of others and is not in the public’s best interest.
Under the California Water Code, in critical water supply situations, there is a priority that shall be allocated as follows:
- Human Consumption
- Livestock and Animals
- Perennial Crops
- Annual Crops
Upon granting a Drought Hardship Variance or appeal, the Board may impose any other conditions it deems to be just and proper.
Financial Considerations for Drought Conditions
Implementing any stage of the drought plan is expected to impact the District’s financial status. As experienced during previous droughts, it is expected that revenues will decrease with decreasing usage, and expenses will increase with additional monitoring and enforcement responsibilities, as well as additional costs for replacement supplies if needed.
The District maintains a rate structure that includes a fixed meter charge plus increasing volumetric block rates for residential customers and volumetric rates for irrigation customers. Volumetric revenue is approximately 53 percent of total revenue. The drought rate structure is set to offset revenue loss from mandatory demand reduction up to 40 percent. Demand reduction above 40 percent will reduce revenue accordingly. Actual impacts will vary depending on customer response.
Enforcement, enhanced outreach, and increase of customer data tracking can add to the District’s costs around a water shortage condition. Often times, these additional efforts are prioritized for current staff, and other normal work efforts are delayed or reassigned. If conditions warrant, the District will seek assistance through additional staffing or third-party service providers. These costs depend on the level of support and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Increase in costs can also be associated with additional equipment obtained to support the District’s outreach, enforcement, tracking, and management efforts.
Depending on the situation, the District may also be able to obtain supplemental water supplies to mitigate the water shortage condition. These supplies are expected to be more costly than regular supplies, and will be evaluated for each specific opportunity.
It is reasonable to expect financial impacts or changes in cash flow during a prolonged water shortage condition. The District will enact a range of management and financial resources depending on the specific situation that include:
- Drought rate surcharge
- Utilizing financial reserves
- Capital project deferment
- Operational and maintenance expense deferment
- Increased revenue from penalties
- And others as identified
Please see the Agricultural Water Management Plan for more details (Water Shortage section starts on Page 18). Click here.