On Feb. 4, the El Dorado Irrigation District board issued a Stage 2 Water Supply Warning for the district’s service area. Since that warning was issued we have been monitoring districtwide water usage, looking to see if customers are heeding our request for increased conservation. I am encouraged and happy to report that customers have, in fact, reduced their water consumption. However, even more continued and sustained conservation is needed by all customers as we prepare for another dry season.
We are a little more fortunate than some other neighboring water agencies who rely on Folsom Lake as their sole source of water. We, in contrast, have senior water rights from our Project 184 system, which consists of four high Sierra lakes (Silver, Caples, Echo, and Aloha), as well as water from Jenkinson Lake, Folsom Lake and Weber Creek and related ditch rights. Still, we are quite concerned.
Fortunately, we operate our facilities — our storage reservoirs, delivery lines, treatment plants, and more — as a single integrated system. This is economically and operationally efficient. And it means that we “are all in it together” regardless of where we live in the district’s service area. It means that our waterlines are strategically linked throughout our service area, allowing us to move water from one geographic area to another area in times of need and to make best use of our water resources. This integrated system allowed us to top off our primary source of drinking water, Jenkinson Lake, via our Hazel Creek tunnel, last summer when it became clear we needed to maximize storage in that reservoir and capture that water supply instead of sending it down the American River to the Pacific.
Now we find ourselves facing another stubborn drought that is looking to be as severe, if not more so, than what we experienced back in the late ’70s. Our numbers tell us that if this dry weather pattern persists, we might need to move into even more serious stages of drought, restricting water consumption even more than now, making conservation measures mandatory and possibly even imposing drought rates that could be a minimum of 15 percent or higher, in order to reduce water usage.
Do your part by helping us to conserve as much water as you possibly can. That will help stave off these more stringent drought stages that could be imposed if conservation numbers are not met soon. If you have already been conserving, I thank you. But whether your use is low or high, there’s always more you can still do. Please do it now.
To read more about our Drought Preparedness Plan, and for more practical tips and water conservation measures, visit our drought information web page at www.eid.org/drought. Learn what you can do to help all of us make it through this challenging time together.
Jim Abercrombie is general manager of EID.