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Severe Drought Spurs Additional Water Saving Measures



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As the lingering effects of a multi-year drought continue to cast their parched shadow on much of California, Placer County continues to take steps to reduce water use and eliminate water waste.

Next week, the county's Parks Division staff will drain water from two fountains at the County Administrative Center in Auburn, also known as the Domes. Because the water is chlorinated, it is not suitable for alternative use, such as landscaping irrigation. Each fountains hold upwards of 700 gallons of water and with the summer heat, require weekly filling due to water loss through evaporation.

Placer County is a geographically large county with buildings, facilities and parks from the western edge in West Roseville to the Nevada state line at Lake Tahoe. In the face of a seemingly unrelenting drought, Parks Division staff is reviewing all county sites for possible ways to improve water conservation. The water savings from the fountains will contribute to the overall water savings for the Domes, and ultimately, the county. While the fountains are offline, staff will clean both fountains and make needed repairs to the upper fountain. The fountains will be maintained in a standby mode until drought restrictions are lifted.

"In the face of the continuing drought, the county needs to do all it can to increase conservation of a precious resource: water," said County Executive Officer David Boesch. "Every time we can be more efficient with water is good not only for conservation efforts during a drought, but also a more efficient use of a resource paid for by our taxpayers."

In keeping an outlook for ways to improve water conservation, recently Parks staff, while repairing water leak at the Domes, made changes to the landscaping at the nearby Auburn Library Garden Theater, which is between the Domes and the Main library. As the ivy had to be removed for the repair work, Parks staff replaced the ivy with bark and plants, which require far less water. Staff is also reconfiguring and repairing the irrigation system. Subsurface irrigation will be installed for water conservation.

Early this year, Placer County implemented numerous measures to become more water efficient and conserve water. Some of those measures include:

  • Reduce all irrigation by 20 percent;
  • Reduce manual watering by 20 percent; 
  • Regularly test all irrigation systems to ensure efficiency; 
  • Inspect watering systems to ensure there is no over-watering or over-spray; 
  • Handle all reports of improper irrigation or broken fixtures as top priority
  • Regularly adjust water conservation schedules in all parks
  • Utilize the county's Central Computer Control Irrigation System whenever possible;
  • Use turf care practices such as aeration, dethatching, and fertilizing on sports fields and lawns, which reduces the need for water; and 
  • Set irrigation times to achieve the most efficiency.

Parks has installed and is using the Central Irrigation System, which uses a central computer to schedule, apply and track plant irrigation. The computer is housed in the Parks Division's offices in Auburn but controls irrigation all over the county. Additionally, the system is being expanded and will not only improve water efficiency, but provide staff with additional data for tracking water use. Another benefit of the system is that it will automatically shut off water when it detects breaks, leaks, or when it rains.

"My staff is continually checking the many places where Placer County uses water and looking for ways to reduce what we use," said John Ramirez, Parks Administrator. "Shutting down the fountains at the Domes will save a small amount of water, but all the small savings we identify add up to large savings of water.

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