Water restrictions shift from voluntary to mandatory
Nevada Irrigation District tighten’s belt, introduces mandatory water use restrictions halfway through irrigation season
The Nevada Irrigation District escalated its response to the statewide drought by imposing mandatory water-use restrictions during a special meeting Thursday.
The new 20% reduction on treated and raw water is effective immediately.
A resolution passed by the board prohibits irresponsible watering that results in runoff into neighboring properties or walkways. Additionally, customers may only wash their cars using a hose fitted with a shut-off nozzle as opposed to a device that continues to dispense water when not in use. The resolution also states that drinking water should only be made available upon request at restaurants and other eateries.
Treated water customers must limit outdoor irrigation to three days a week. The resolution states that watering should take place before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. every day.
Increases for summer water, per stage two of NID’s Drought Contingency Plan, will be prorated from Thursday through the end of the irrigation season on Oct. 14.
First-time violations will result in a verbal or written warning. Subsequent issues will result in fines paid to NID.
The district first declared a drought emergency April 28, after a monthly snow survey revealed that the 2020-21 snowpack essentially evaporated before it ever entered storage. The spring declaration, indicating 2021 was the third driest year on California record, was paired with a recommendation encouraging NID customers to reduce their water use by 10%.
The voluntary reduction, even when combined with NID’s May 6 purchase of 16,000 acre feet of water from PG&E, was not enough and the board called Thursday’s meeting to review the second stage of the drought contingency plan.
“The initial customer response was not providing significant enough reduction,” Water Operations Manager Chip Close said.
‘HISTORIC AND UNANTICIPATED’
Close said the state’s understanding of the water crisis reflects the county’s understanding of the issue, which evolves as the seasons progress.
On May 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in 41 counties, including Nevada, Placer and Yuba, due to the “historic and unanticipated” depletion of expected snowpack runoff.
Close said a mandated 20% water-use reduction will help ensure the total district storage remains above 105,000 acre feet until October.
The district will impose further restrictions, if necessary, if water-use trends indicate the season’s end water storage dropping below 100,000 acre feet. In Stage 2 of the drought, water levels are somewhere between 188,000 and 211,499 acre feet, Close said.
Normally, the district makes bulk water deliveries through its system to out-of-county customers. As the district has agreed to suspend new or increased irrigation water sales, Close said it’s keeping an eye out for vendors transporting water out of district lines. NID will continue to honor its contracts with out-of-county agencies, but will review those agreements closely.
Division 1 Director Ricki Heck said Nevada City residents are also subject to the same restrictions as NID customers, as the district has already sold some water to the city.
Additionally, Grass Valley already faces water-use restrictions.
Close said customers can help keep the region hydrated and water distribution legal by calling customer service with information about water trucks, often sighted in District 5, that may be headed illegally out of county.
Rich Johansen, the Division 5 director, encouraged growing one’s lawn longer than 5 inches, as it helps conserve water.
“Keep your lawns higher or brown them out,” Johansen said.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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