Sacramento, Calif. – Today the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Board of Directors, which represents 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region, adopted a resolution urging their members to consider actions, such as asking customers to voluntary conserve and sustainably shifting to groundwater, in order to help the environment of the Lower American River.
“While the Sacramento region is in a strong position to meet the water supply needs of people, the dry conditions are expected to stress the environment of the Lower American River, one of our region’s greatest treasures,” said RWA Executive Director Jim Peifer.
Folsom Reservoir storage levels are lower than historic drought conditions in 2014 and 2015. Water flowing from Folsom Reservoir feeds the Lower American River and supports fish species that depend on both adequate flows and temperatures, including fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. RWA is continuing to work with the Sacramento Water Forum, and federal and state agencies, to monitor and address conditions.
“We are calling on local water providers to consider reducing their reliance on Folsom Lake and the Lower American River for their water supplies as much as possible,” Peifer said, noting that actions may include:
- Shifting to using more groundwater. Over the past several decades local water providers have been working together to sustainably shift the region’s water use to surface water or groundwater according to conditions. During dry years, the region’s groundwater aquifer is there to serve as our buffer against drought.
- Sharing water around the region: Since the last drought, water providers have invested in new pipelines, interties, pumps and groundwater wells to move water where it’s needed. This system builds on the existing ability to shift between surface and groundwater and is ready to assist the communities most directly impacted by lower levels at Folsom Reservoir.
- Asking customers to voluntarily conserve water by 10 percent, especially outdoors where most household water use occurs in the Sacramento region.
“We ask residents to use water efficiently no matter the weather, and regional water use is already lower than it was in 2013, before the last major drought,” Peifer said. “Residents may be asked to further their efforts.”
On a regional basis, the Regional Water Authority will be increasing advertising to promote water efficiency and offering several new rebate programs to help customers install water-efficient irrigation, replace thirsty lawn with low-water plants, and fix household leaks. Additional information will be posted to BeWaterSmart.info.
“It’s important to remember that we’ve been here before—and frankly will be here again with climate change,” Peifer said. The region’s water providers have developed a comprehensive water resilience portfolio called WaterFuture, to prepare for the more frequent and intense cycles of drought projected to come with climate change. You can learn more about this at rwah2o.org/WaterFuture.
BEST WAYS TO SAVE
In the Sacramento region, most of the water we use daily goes on lawns and outdoor landscaping, and about 30 percent of that is lost due to overwatering and evaporation. There are lots of ways to save water at home, but using water efficiently outdoors can make the biggest difference of all.
Here are five possible actions to take now:
1: Check soil moisture with a moisture meter before turning on sprinklers—saves 80 gallons of water per day. Request a free moisture meter, while supplies last, at BeWaterSmart.info.
2: Replace older sprinklers with more high-efficiency rotary nozzles—saves 8 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet of yard per day. Learn how at BeWaterSmart.info/Sprinklers.
3: Upgrade to a WaterSense-labeled weather-based sprinkler timer—saves up to 100-150 gallons of water per day. Learn about available rebates at BeWaterSmart.info/rebates-services.
4: Water plants early in the morning to reduce evaporation—saves 50 gallons of water each time you water.
5: Inside your home, check and fix leaks—saves 30-50 gallons of water per day. Learn how at BeWaterSmart.info/household-leaks-are-more-than-a-drop-in-the-bucket.
Water providers are here to help. Many water providers offer rebates for replacing older fixtures with more efficient models. These include rebates for toilets and clothes washers, as well as for upgrading water-wasting sprinklers and irrigation equipment. In addition to rebates, most local water providers offer free consultations for customers with tailored information on how they can specifically use less water in the home and the garden.
The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is a joint powers authority representing 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the greater Sacramento region. Formed in 2001, its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at rwah2o.org.