After a long meeting Tuesday night that included extensive audience input, the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District voted unanimously to declare a Stage 2 drought emergency.
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That decision was based on the water level in Stumpy Meadows Reservoir being 15,617 acre-feet when measured on April 7.
Normally the 20,000 acre-foot reservoir would be spilling this time of year.
Guidelines for both the district’s Urban Water Management Plan and Drought Plan provide for declaring a drought emergency when water storage drops below 17,000 acre-feet.
At the same time, the board decided not to go the draconian route of cutting irrigation water back by 40 percent per its drought plan. Instead it decided that, for now anyway, irrigation users will only suffer a 25 percent cut.
Irrigation customers are the biggest users of district water, consuming 75 percent of it.
The board also voted for potable water customers to cut their water use by 30 percent, which is voluntary for now. Other restrictions they will face include limited days and hours when they can irrigate ornamental plants, gardens and landscaping; a prohibition on planting new turf grass or replacements; a prohibition on eating establishments automatically offering drinking water to customers; a prohibition on the initial filling of swimming pools or ornamental ponds; a prohibition on home car washing; and a prohibition on accepting any new domestic water accounts.
Left somewhat fuzzy by the board was a definite start and end date for the irrigation season. Typically it begins May 1 and runs through Sept. 30. But with uncertainty about water availability this year and next, the board voted to start the irrigation season no later than June 1, with an earlier start date possible, depending upon the water level in the reservoir.
The end date for irrigation is also up in the air, depending upon how much carryover water is available for next year. According to a staff report, that should be 12,000 acre-feet, but the current projection indicates an end-of-year carryover of only 6,500. However, Interim General Manager Gary Hoffmann noted that potable and irrigation water conservation measures and relief from the Pilot Creek bypass flows should result in an end-of-year water storage carryover of approximately 9,700 acre-feet.
The district is in the process of preparing a petition to the state water board for relief from the Pilot Creek bypass requirement which would then allow them to store 2 cubic-feet-per-second of water they now have to divert.
The board also directed staff to send letters to its almost 400 irrigation customers notifying them of the 25 percent cut in water allocation and asking if any are willing to forego some or all of their water allocation this year. Doing so would not result in any loss to their water allocation in future years, said the board.
That idea drew a positive response from the audience with many residents volunteering to give up some portion of their water allotment this year to help out the district.
On a different matter, Hoffmann reported the firm they hired to find a new general manager has generated a pool of candidates with the best ones to be presented to the board to interview by June 1.
However, this drew complaints from Director Maria Capraun who said the firm had promised to have a list of candidates to them within 30 days. Board President Bonnie McLane warned the district may run out of general managers before then as Hoffmann is limited by CalPERS to working 960 hours a fiscal year and may bump up against that limit before a new general manager is on board.
In a related personnel matter, Hoffmann reported he is preparing the job description for the operations manager but recommended leaving the screening, interviewing and hiring of the person to the new general manager.
The district has also received the revised plans and specifications for the upgrade to the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant from Psomas. Psomas is the engineering firm hired to prepare the original plans as well as the recently completed revised ones.
To pay for the upgrade to the plant, last year GDPUD submitted an application to the California Department of Public Health for a loan. According to Hoffmann, the upgrade is a priority with CDPH and its goal is to have a funding agreement with the district by June 30.
The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for May 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the district office.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.