EID DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS and Community Relations Mary Lynn Carlton, far right, talks with EID Customer Services Manager Lori Grace and Engineering Director Brian Mueller about the drought. Photo courtesy EID


EID Q&A: Straight talk about the drought

By From page A11 | March 05, 2014

Now that the El Dorado Irrigation District is in a Stage 2 Water Supply Warning, and customers are expected to conserve 30 percent, what exactly does that mean?

It means that EID is asking customers to voluntarily reduce their water consumption to help achieve a 30 percent reduction in water use from the past three-year district-wide average. We are not targeting customers individually unless they are currently wasting water. If as a district we are able to achieve a 30 percent reduction in water usage, we may be able to prevent implementing a more severe stage of drought restrictions which may include mandating water conservation or imposing drought rates. A helpful list of tips for reducing water consumption by 30 percent is available on our Website at If you are already conserving, we sincerely appreciate the conservation efforts you have undertaken and hope that you will continue to be as water conscious in the future.

I have heard many customers say that they cannot reduce their water usage further because they are already conserving. What is our message to those customers?

First of all, I would say “thank you” and the district appreciates your diligence. We understand that customers who have been serious about conservation measures and have been conserving both indoors and outdoors probably don’t have a lot more they can do. It’s the customers who are high water users whom we are reaching out to; those with large lawns that are being irrigated a lot during this dry winter season or those with leaks that need to be fixed. It’s the customers that are not mindful of their excessive use that can make the largest contribution by cutting down on their water use; checking to ensure they don’t have a leaking irrigation system or misaligned sprinklers; and employing a whole host of other water efficiency measures. If they do it, I’m confident we can reach our district-wide goal of a 30 percent reduction. 

I have read in the district’s Drought Action Plan that there is a Stage 1 Water Alert. Why did the district skip Stage 1 and go directly into Stage 2? 

EID skipped Stage 1 and went directly to Stage 2 due to the overwhelmingly dry conditions we experienced in January that prompted customers to use 27 percent more water during the month than they did just one year ago. Once we saw those higher consumption numbers, apparently because of an increased usage of outdoor irrigation, it became clear that we could be heading into an even more dire situation; one that required immediate decisive action. 

Earlier you mentioned “drought rates.” What, exactly, are these rates?

Drought rates can be imposed by the district’s Board of Directors at any time that they conclude that voluntary conservation is not working.  The drought rate is calculated by adding an additional charge to the consumption use, but not to the base charge. This conservation rate will encourage customers to use less water during the drought period and extend our supplies. In our Drought Action Plan, it is mentioned that a 15 percent drought rate can be imposed during a Stage 1 Water Alert. The board could impose an even larger percentage drought rate in a Stage 2 Water Warning, such as 30 percent, if they determined it was necessary to reduce usage. However, at this time, the EID board members elected to hold off on imposing such conservation drought rates and give our customers a chance to voluntarily reduce so that the drought rates might not be necessary.

If you want to know how your current water usage compares to last year’s use, that information is listed on the back of your bill. If you want more historical usage data than the 24 months on your bill, contact EID’s Customer Service Division at 530-642-4000.

How do we compare to the drought of 1976-77, in terms of our water supply?

Our largest source of drinking water is Jenkinson Lake. In January 2014, due to it being a very dry month, the water level in Jenkinson Lake tracked closely to the usage line in 1976. It was only after the rainstorms we had in early February, and the beginning efforts of some customers to conserve, that the 2014 storage level pulled above the 1976 trend line. However, it can easily slip back if we continue to use water excessively and if our precipitation levels stay as low as predicted. In any event, it is nearing the end of our rainy season, so we are most likely facing another challenging year with very limited supplies of water. 

Where can customers get updated information on the drought, including conservation measures?

We have developed an EID drought page for our Website. The address is There you can find all kinds of conservation tips, news articles and a water calculator, among other topics. You may also sign up to get notified when drought-related news releases are added to the site by using the eNews signup link on our home page. You can also “like” our EID Drought Information Facebook page.

Mary Lynn Carlton

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