40 percent reduction in water use required citywide
Because of lack of rain, Sonoma and Mendocino counties are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions that will persist through 2021 and perhaps longer. On May 25, the State Water Control Board issued notices of water unavailability that effectively curtails Healdsburg's water rights. As a result, the Healdsburg City Council on June 7, approved Stage 3 to achieve a 40 percent systemwide reduction in water use. That means that all Healdsburg residents, businesses, schools, and City facilities, including parks, must cut their indoor and outdoor water use. Detailed water use prohibitions can be found here.
On April 21, 2021 -- the day before Earth Day -- Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a drought emergency in the Russian River watershed, which spans Sonoma and Mendocino counties. This was a month after the California State Water Control Board issued a warning to water utilities — including the City of Healdsburg — and agricultural water customers to prepare for drought impacts statewide.
Just How Bad is the Drought?
- This winter, we received only 35 percent of typical rainfall: 13 inches compared to the average of 38 inches of rainfall. The two primary reservoirs that serve Sonoma County are Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino.
- This is the second consecutive dry year coming on the heels of last year, which was previously the driest year on record. View drought monitoring data for Santa Rosa and Ukiah.
- The City of Healdsburg has water rights to Lake Mendocino to supplement our drinking-water demands, and the lake is only at 44.7 percent of capacity as of April 2021.
- The drought is impacting not just Sonoma County, but all of California. Snowpack typically provides about a third of the state’s water supply and as of April 8, snowpack is only at about 56 percent of average.
Find current drought conditions at The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Agency's (NOAA) Drought Monitor.
City of Healdsburg planning and response
The City encourages our water-utility customers to conserve water and is planning for mandatory conversation measures this summer. Mandatory measures will go into effect when the state declares a water shortage emergency and/or water rights and flow rates are curtailed. Like 2013-2014 mandatory conservation, residents will be required to reduce and adjust irrigation schedules, fix leaks in a timely fashion, and restrict new pool installations.
The City’s Utility Department has taken several steps to reduce water loss:
- Annually calibrate water-production meters
- Replaced the old, leaky wooden Sunset Tank with a water-tight steel tank
- With the help of the City’s Public Works Department, replacing old water mains
Other City departments are also identifying ways to reduce water use, such as reducing irrigation in parks and public spaces.
Please do your part to conserve water
To ensure sufficient water supply through the dry season, please use water wisely. The biggest opportunity to cut back on water usage is via irrigation and landscaping.
- Check your water meter for a leak. Instructions are here.
- Do not install a pool this year.
- Don’t plant lawns or water-intensive non-native plants. Check out Sonoma County Master Gardeners' resources.
- Mulch and compost your existing landscaping.
- Invest in laundry-to-landscaping grey water systems. Technical support is here.
- Replace old top-loader washing machines with front loaders. Find Energy Star’s Most Efficient Clothes washers here.
There are also many ways you can also help save water indoors:
- Use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only
- Take shorter (5 minute) showers
- Fix leaks, including leaky toilets
- Install high-efficiency toilets, aerators on bathroom faucets, and water-efficient shower heads
- Track your water bill and meter to curtail water use
- Turn off water when brushing teeth or shaving
For more ways to save, visit: https://saveourwater.com/ and http://www.savingwaterpartnership.org/