Precipitation

Lake Sonoma, blanketed by thick fog in the morning rain, rose by seven feet over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The California State Water Resource Control Board on Friday Jan. 15 released a draft proposal to extend state mandated water conservation rules through October. If adopted, the extension will mean that the current water conservation goal of 25 percent less water use compared to 2013 will continue. A fact sheet released by the water board said “While the state has experienced some much-needed snow and rainfall in December and January, surface storage remains at or near historic lows, precipitation has been inconsistent, and snowpack is about average.” As written, the latest draft will extend conservation rules through October of this year. The water board is asking for public comment on the proposal.

“Just because we’re getting rain doesn’t mean the drought is over, so we’re going to want people to conserve,” said Sebastopol Public Works Superintendent Rich Emig. Emig said that in addition to the state mandate and a resolution passed by the city council last year, “it’s the right thing to do.”

Sebastopol’s drinking water comes from wells deep in the ground and Emig said that water can take years to travel down to the aquafer. Emig isn’t sure that the Sebastopol wells have actually experienced water loss from the drought and said conserving water may be critical if there is a delay in the underground aquifer showing signs of not fully recharging due to the drought.

“I think we would see that coming because we are monitoring levels. That’s what this is all about, we’re working on water sustainability because we don’t want to be in that position,” said Emig.

At Lake Sonoma, the news is better and rain through December and January is raising the water level. According to measurements tracked by the Army Corps of Engineers stationed at the reservoir, over the Martin Luther King Junior holiday weekend, from Friday to Monday, Lake Sonoma rose about seven feet.

Data available on the Sonoma County Water’s website shows that Lake Sonoma was at 76.8 percent of water supply capacity, or about 154,000 of 250,000 acre feet of water, as of Jan. 11. Lake Mendocino as of the same date was at 69.2 percent of its target supply for this time of year, or about 44,000 acre feet. Statewide the average water savings is at about 26.3 percent for last six months of 2015, according to a report put out on Jan. 5, by the state water board.

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