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City Scene: Take control of water use, water bills

By: Evert Palmer, Folsom City Manager, Special to the Telegraph
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By now everyone should know all Folsom homes have water meters and you are paying for the water actually used on your property.

This switch from a flat rate to metered rates for actual water use, which was required by state law, gives everyone the opportunity to lower water bills through conservation. You are no longer subsidizing neighbors who choose to waste water. You can take control of your monthly water bills by taking control of your water use.

Water conservation not only helps your household finances, it also protects a vital natural resource that is not always abundantly available. Folsom Lake and other major reservoirs are at near-average water levels now, thanks to abundant rainfall in November and December. However, the first few months of 2013 were very dry, and water experts anticipate that water levels could drop significantly this summer.

Early snow surveys conducted by the Department of Water Resources show Sierra snowpack has shrunk to 66 percent of normal. That’s a very steep drop from early January and follows the driest January and February in the northern Sierra’s history. Sierra snowpack is usually at its peak in early April before it melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers and eventually feeds household water taps. This snowpack typically provides about a third of the water for California’s households, industry and farms.

Water conservation experts wisely encourage everyone to use only the water you need, especially in your landscapes. Most residential water use, and water waste, occurs in yards and gardens.

Spring is an excellent time to tune-up sprinkler systems to ensure efficient operation as the outdoor watering season approaches. Taking time to tune sprinklers now can have long lasting benefits for the health of our landscapes, for your pocketbooks and for the environment.

Folsom’s water conservations experts – Don Smith and Jan Famestad — provide free assistance to local homeowners, including an in-home evaluation of your water use, assessment of your sprinkler system and recommendations to conserve water. Just call (916) 355-5242 to schedule an appointment for this free service.

I appreciate the fact that most Folsom residents truly care about water efficiency, and understand why it is important to conserve. Thank you for recognizing that water is a precious natural resource that must not be taken for granted. I welcome your comments at epalmer@folsom.ca.us.

Evert Palmer is the city manager of Folsom.