Keep saving water, the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors said Monday, but there will be no penalty for excess water consumption.
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Despite several dueling motions, the board eventually unanimously decided on the following schedule:
1. At the March 24 meeting, the board will review its drought action plan and the effect on all rate classes.
2. Sometime before the April 14 meeting, the board will hold an evening workshop on the drought action plan.
3. At the April 14 meeting, the board will consider the district’s water supplies and how much customers have saved overall. It may consider alternating watering days. The board may again discuss a drought surcharge if overall water consumption hasn’t declined and precipitation hasn’t substantially increased by then, but the bias appears to be against drought surcharges.
The reservoir supplies reported Monday by General Manager Jim Abercrombie included Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park at 78 percent of capacity. That figure was a result of recent rains plus 3,000 acre-feet of water transferred from the El Dorado Canal via Hazel Creek Tunnel. That also includes 3,000 acre-feet that was transferred into Sly Park last year.
Folsom Lake was at 38 percent of its capacity, up from a low of 17 percent.
EID’s collection of four alpine reservoirs, a diversion dam on the South Fork of the American River, the 22-mile El Dorado Canal, Forebay Reservoir and a 21-megawatt powerhouse are called Project 184 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“Project 184 is likely to get its full 15,080 acre-feet of water and still meet fish flow requirements,” Abercrombie said.
Abercrombie also noted, “District water consumption is 57 percent higher than a 30 percent reduction would indicate.” Currently the consumption graph line is 1,200 acre-feet above the target reduction needed to get through the summer irrigation season and maintain 20,000 acre-feet of carryover in Sly Park.
In the second year of the 1975-77 drought, EID customers reduced their average water use from 350 gallons per day to 76 gpd, Abercrombie said.
“I view the green line (graphed declining consumption) as positive,” said Board President Alan Day. “I think the outreach effort is starting to kick in and take effect. ”
Director Greg Prada criticized the small farm rate. “We’re actually excluding 30 percent of the water going to olive farms,” he said.
“I like alternating watering days,” Prada said. “That’s where the battle is being fought — lawns.”
“Drought surcharges are a bludgeon,” Day said. “Conditions are better than they were in January. It’s better to go after individual abusers.”
“This board is not making the decisions. It’s the public making the decision,” said Director Dale Coco. “If the public conserves enough, this board doesn’t have to do anything.”
“If we delay doing things how do we do things quickly?” asked Director Bill George. “If we did do that (drought surcharge in late April or May) the bills are not going to be seen until June or July. I’m not in favor of a surcharge currently. Low-income and fixed-income customers are not going to be affected.”
Several audience members offered water-saving ideas.
Paul Raveling of El Dorado Hills promoted using soil moisture meters.
Ed Willyard of El Dorado Hills said he planned to take out 70 percent of the lawn at the mobile home park he manages.
“Water sensors — I think that’s a very good idea. I think there are a lot of positive things we can do,” Day said.