Mendocino County Water Resources Update – The Ukiah Daily Journal


As of Friday morning, there was just over 48,150 acre-feet of storage in Lake Mendocino, and by early August the reservoir was described as only “62.9% of its target water supply curve.” , according to data shared by the Mendocino County Water Agency.

On Monday, the Mendocino County Drought Task Force is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. in the Supervisory Board Chambers at 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah.

The first item on the agenda is an update from the County-Wide Drought Task Force Committee, then “Discussion and possible action regarding the agency’s draft implementation plan. County Water,” which will include an “Update from the Autonomous Mendocino County Water Agency Ad Hoc Funding Committee.”

The full agenda can be found here: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx, although it is listed as the “Health, Safety and Public Resources Committee”.

According to the latest update from Mendocino County Water News, compiled by the MCWA, here are some of the countywide water managers’ reports provided in early August:

Fort Bragg: John Smith, Director of Public Works, reported that late rains pushed back water conservation restrictions by weeks. Nonetheless, at its July 25 meeting, City Council implemented mandatory Stage 1 water conservation restrictions as current water supply conditions began to show the effects of a third year of drought. Stage 1 conservation targets a 5-10% reduction in seasonal water use city-wide. The Noyo River has fallen 1.5 cubic feet per second over the past week and the city’s other two water sources are very low compared to previous years. The combined source streams provide approximately 4.1 million gallons per day.

Mendocino: A Phase 4 water shortage emergency remains in effect in Mendocino and the City of Mendocino Community Services District Water Shortage Contingency Plan is active. Details on plan requirements can be found at https://www.mccsd.com/.

Unincorporated Coast: Water Manager Larry Miller wrote that “of the eight public water systems (it) operates on the Mendocino Coast (south of Albion to south of Ft. Bragg) , none had to buy water”.

City of Ukiah: The City of Ukiah has produced approximately 220 million gallons of recycled water so far this season. “Recycled water offsets demand on the Russian River and Lake Mendocino,” noted Sean White, director of water and sewer. The city will install in the coming weeks a self-service recycled water facility available for water trucks as well as private citizens. It has also just completed the reconstruction of Shaft 8 to improve both production and efficiency.

Brooktrails: Brooktrails has begun reaching out to customers who exceed the maximum allowable monthly water usage cap of 9,000 gallons. Tamara Alaniz, General Manager of the Community Services District (CSD), said the only source of water supply for Brooktrails is rain and runoff and the CSD may impose physical restrictions in water lines and/ or penalties to customers who use more than the monthly maximum. amount. She also noted that “this third year of drought is a critical time for customers to manage their water usage and conserve our limited supplies until the next rain.”

MCWA also shared an update on the Potter Valley project: On July 27, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PGE) stream deviation application for the Potter Valley project, reducing project flows to the east Russian fork. River at 5 cubic feet per second (cfs) with the potential to increase to 25 cfs depending on storage in Pillsbury Lake.

The 5 cfs represents a dramatic reduction in water deliveries: since May 15, discharges from the Potter Valley project have been 75 cfs. The 5 cfs goal has several caveats. The Potter Valley Irrigation District will continue to receive water, but only on a demand-based schedule and not to exceed 50 cfs. Additionally, PG&E has the discretion to limit deliveries to keep Pillsbury Lake above 30,000 acre feet through September 15. No (additional) buffer water will be released to prevent flow rates from falling below 5 cfs. The waiver takes effect immediately.

On July 28, the Water Rights Division of the State Water Resources Control Board posted an updated list of the status of the reduction on the Russian River Drought Response webpage which went live. effective August 1, 2022. Additionally, in response to FERC’s approval of the variance, the division stated that it will “closely monitor flow conditions, but staff expects to release a revised list state reductions in early August, reflecting reduced water availability in the watershed. Further reductions are expected at that time. One of the ramifications of this turn of events is that the National Water Council should suspend the much-heralded and groundbreaking voluntary water-sharing scheme that allowed Russian River water rights holders to voluntarily reduce water consumption and share available water.

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