Governor Declares Drought
On January 17, 2014 Governor Jerry Brown issued a drought state of emergency declaration in response to record-low water levels in California’s rivers and reservoirs as well as an abnormally low snowpack. The declaration puts into motion a variety of policy and procedural directives that are key to implementing California’s management of one of the driest year the state has ever experiences.
On February 11, 2014, following the Governor’s initial drought proclamation, the Davis City Council passed a Resolution 14-013, calling for 20% voluntary water conservation. The reduction of water usage by 20% is equivalent to a Stage 2 response in the City’s Adopted Urban water Management Plan (UWMP). The City’s records indicate that total water production for the time period of Jan-Jun 2014 is 14% below production over the same time period in 2013.
On April 25, 2014, the Governor issued a proclamation of a continued state of emergency under the California Emergency Services Act based on continued drought conditions. On July 28, 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) enacted emergency regulations to promote further conservation. The regulations require urban water suppliers (suppliers providing water to over 3,000 municipal customers or providing over 3,000 acre-feet per year to municipal customers) to activate their previously adopted, Water Code-compliant Water Shortage Contingency Plans at the stage that imposes mandatory restrictions on outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf. In Davis, this represents a Stage 3 Water Shortage emergency, which imposes mandatory water use restrictions, including limits on outside irrigation, to achieve a 30% reduction.
City of Davis Mandatory Water Waste Restrictions
On September 2, 2014 the City Council voted to enact a Stage 3 water shortage emergency. Stage 3 requires a 30 percent reduction in water use. This heightened water conservation stage limits outdoor irrigation and impacts other residential and business water use.These restrictions are effective immediately.
On March 17, 2015, the State Water Board amended and readopted the drought-related emergency regulation. The City’s current Stage 3 mandatory water restrictions already meet the State’s regulations and remain in place and include the following:
- No watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle, or for very short periods when adjusting a sprinkler system;
- Outdoor watering is restricted to three days a week:
- Odd numbered addresses: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday;
- Even numbered addresses: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday;
- No outdoor watering on Monday;
- No watering during periods of rain;
- No excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind;
- No washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation, in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used;
- All property owners must fix leaks, breaks or malfunctions when they find them, or within 72 hours of receiving a notice from the city of Davis;
- Fountains and water features must have a re-circulating water system;
- Vehicles must be washed with a hand-held bucket and/or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle (does not apply to commercial car washes);
- Restaurants may not serve drinking water unless by patron's request;
- Restaurants must use water-saving dish wash spray valves;
- No installation of non-recirculating water systems at new commercial car washes and laundry systems;
- Hotels and motels must give guests the option to decline daily bed linen and towel changes
Enforcement will be handled in the same manner as we currently handle similar violations. City water crews have door hangers which they use to inform a resident/property owner if there is a known issue, and these are generally used for first-time violations in the hopes of educating. Properties with multiple or repeat complaints will receive a letter or email outlining the problem and the expected action. Finally, code compliance staff will be deployed if a problem persists.
City of Davis Urban Water Management Plan
On July 19, 2011, the City of Davis adopted its Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP).
The City of Davis has experienced a 54 feet drop in average water levels in their municipal wells since March 2014. This drop in static water levels in the City’s wells is seasonal and reflects the high demand on groundwater in this region of Yolo County and the impact of the ongoing drought in California. Such a drop in water levels constitutes an average depth to water levels in the city of almost 100-feet-below ground level and is an event stipulated in the City’s UWMP to trigger water conservation.
Among the elements contained in the UWMP is an element pertaining to water shortage contingency planning. Excerpts of the UWMP water shortage contingency plan, specifically Tables 8-1, 8-2, 8-4 and 8-5, are included below.
As indicated in UWMP Tables 8-4 and 8-5, to meet the 30% reduction goal, the City prescribes certain prohibitions and consumption reduction methods.
The City of Davis is implementing a stage 3 response due to the SWRCB emergeny regulations.
In immediate response to the drought, but necessary to the ongoing implementation of the water conservation programs identified in both the City’s adopted Integrated Water Supply Plan and water conservation plans, staff intends to consider the addition of a Water Conservation Specialist during our budget cycle for FY 14/15. This position would develop, implement and direct active and effective long-range conservation management plans and programs related to the City’s water resource planning. This staff person would not only be the lead for education and public outreach, but also have knowledge of drought tolerant landscapes and irrigation demands of all types of landscape.
Surface Water Project
One of the recurring questions being asked of staff is how this declaration of drought would impact the city if the Davis-Woodland Water Supply Project (DWWSP) were currently supply water?
Even after the DWWSP becomes fully operational, both cities will continue to utilize their existing groundwater supplies. Currently, Davis relies on one group of wells accessing intermediate-depth groundwater, and on a second group of wells accessing deep aquifer groundwater. By most measures, deep aquifer groundwater is of a higher quality than intermediate-depth groundwater. The city will eliminate the use of the intermediate aquifer wells to meet potable water demands once the DWWSP becomes fully operational Deep aquifer groundwater should be less susceptible to year-to-year fluctuations associated with drought conditions. In an especially dry year (like the current one), agricultural operations throughout the region rely more heavily on intermediate-depth groundwater for crop irrigation, which has the potential effect of reducing the amount of supply available to Davis. As a result, in drought years, Davis would be compelled to reduce their groundwater usage through water demand management practices. In extreme dry years, those practices may have to include severe measures such as water rationing.
The Woodland Davis Clean Water Agency has acquired two separate surface water rights as part of the regional surface water project:
- 45,000 acre feet per year (Permit 20281) The Agency’s rights to divert water under Permit 20281 are subject to curtailments under State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Term 91. Specifically, when the diversion prohibition in Term 91 is in effect, surface water may not be diverted from the Sacramento River under this water right permit.
- A supplemental water right purchased from the Conaway Preservation Group (CPG) that provides up to 10,000 acre feet during the period of April through October. Because these CPG water rights have fairly high priorities, and the resultant settlement contract with the Bureau recognizes those priorities, water may be diverted under these water rights even during dry years and drought conditions when Term 91 restrictions are in effect. Nevertheless, the CPG water is subject to a reduction of 25 percent, or down to 7,500 acre feet, in those rare cases when Lake Shasta water levels are considered critically low.
In short, even under the current drought declaration, if the DWWSP were complete and operational, Davis would be able to secure adequate surface water supplies, combined with its groundwater supplies, to meet the demands of its residents.
Requires Update: No