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Drought Measures Put on Hold by PCWA


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AUBURN -- Directors of the Placer County Water Agency on Thursday (Feb. 20) agreed to wait a few weeks before deciding if water delivery restrictions will be needed in what continues to be a very dry year.

       "We're still in a very serious drought and we're asking everyone to conserve water on a voluntary basis, but a month from now we'll be in a better position to know about this year's water availability," said PCWA General Manager David A. Breninger.

       The Board of Directors heard a detailed staff presentation on local water supplies that have improved as a result of the Feb. 6-10 storms.  The wet weather produced 11.4 inches of precipitation at Lake Spaulding (elev. 5,014 ft.).  

       PCWA Deputy Director of Technical Services and drought project manager Tony Firenzi said water availability is up 20 percent due to the large storms but that precipitation is still well below average for this time of year.

       He noted that a wet weather pattern is shaping up for late February-early March and expressed optimism that more wet weather would ease the drought condition.

Firenzi and Director of Strategic Affairs Einar Maisch recommended that the board wait until after the scheduled March 1 snow surveys, and perhaps until the April 1 snow surveys, before making final determinations on how limited water supplies might be allocated this year.

       The board meeting attracted about 25 interested citizens.  Local agriculturalists, swimming pool builders and golf course operators said proposed water delivery restrictions could impact their businesses.  

       "I think we need to hold off and take another look at this," said District 1 Director Gray Allen.  Other board members also favored taking a wait and see approach.  District 3 Director Mike Lee said he remained hopeful the agency would get through the year without having to impose mandatory water use restrictions.

       Directors, who declared a drought emergency condition two weeks ago, asked staff to schedule a further review of water supply conditions at the board's next meeting on Mar. 6.

       In a related matter, PCWA directors reaffirmed their Feb. 6 decision to install emergency pumps and piping on two existing PCWA wells in the Rocklin area.  Officials said the $244,000 project could supply about 2,000 acre-feet of water this year, allowing more water to be saved in upper elevation reservoirs.

       In other business, directors:

  • renewed the agency's ongoing contract with the federal Bureau of Reclamation for water from the Central Valley Project (CVP) delivered at Folsom Reservoir.  The interim renewal is for two years.
  • approved the sale of up to 20,000 acre-feet of surplus water from the Middle Fork American River Project to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).  The water cannot be supplied within PCWA's service areas and flows through the lower American River as part of PCWA's participation in the Water Forum agreement.


The next regular meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors will be held at 2 p.m. on Mar. 6 at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn.  PCWA board meetings are open to the public.

 Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.  The PCWA website, www.pcwa.net features a Drought Update link with many water saving tips and techniques.


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