TRUCKEE, Calif. — Local agencies are supporting Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for Californians to conserve water.
The most recent snow survey in the Sierra Nevada found the snowpack was at 12 percent of normal as of Jan. 30. Previously, the lowest snowpack water content readings for that time of year was in 1991 and 1963 at 21 percent, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
Due to extended dry conditions, Brown declared a statewide drought emergency last month and urged water conservation, calling for a 20 percent voluntary reduction among residents.
“The drought in the Sierra Nevada is very serious,” said Mike Staudenmayer, general manager of Northstar Community Services District, in a news release late last week. “Although there is no evidence of water shortages in the Martis Valley aquifer, we should all do our part to meet (Brown’s) request.”
Considering the uncertainty of long-term weather patterns, the Northstar district, Truckee Donner Public Utility District and Placer County Water Agency — which all depend on Martis Valley and deep groundwater wells for water — are encouraging customers to meet the 20 percent request.
“… The drought situation in California is very real, and we are asking our customers to help us conserve even more,” said Tony Laliotis, TDPUD board president.
The Tahoe City Public Utility District — which doesn’t rely on Martis Valley for its water — is calling for the same.
The district’s groundwater wells in the North Lahontan Hydrologic Region are showing effects of the drought, said Laliotis, who is also director of utilities for the agency.
“The good news is that if customers conserve water, the district’s water supplies will not reach critical status this summer, even if the drought conditions continues,” according to a TCPUD statement.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 61 percent of California was in “extreme drought” as of Feb. 11. Three months ago, only 11 percent was in that category.
In neighboring Nevada, federal officials have declared nine counties — including Washoe — as primary disaster areas due to the drought.
The Incline Village General Improvement District, which depends on Lake Tahoe to serve its 8,000 water connections in Incline and Crystal Bay, is doing OK, said Joe Pomroy, director of public works and interim general manager for IVGID.
“We don’t anticipate any problems taking water out of the lake at the current level,” Pomroy said.
As of Tuesday, the lake was at 6,224 feet above sea level, a foot above its natural rim.
While there are no water restrictions in place now, and none anticipated in the near future, IVGID encourages efficient water use year-round, Pomroy said.
“Water is a precious resource,” he said.
Some ways to conserve include taking shorter showers; turning water off while brushing teeth and shaving; and running the dishwasher and washing machine only when full.
According to the National Weather Service’s extended forecast Tuesday, there is a 40 percent chance of snow for the Truckee/Tahoe region before 10 a.m. Wednesday, with the remainder of the week expected to be sunny.
“We’re monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do so through the summer months,” said Laliotis, on behalf of TCPUD. “We hope we get some precipitation between then, but we’re prepared if we don’t.”