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Folsom Lake could take years to replenish

Folsom to declare stage three water alert
By: Don Chaddock, The Telegraph
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A wall of concrete and steel can be seen rather than placid water at Folsom Lake. The poor snowpack in the Sierra, combined with minimal rainfall, will force the city to upgrade its water conservation efforts. The exposed dam, when seen from Beals Point, is a stark reminder of the severity of the drought. "As we can see, Folsom Lake is at a record level low, currently at less than 25 percent capacity," said Folsom Mayor Steve Miklos. "The Sierra snow pack at this point will not be enough to replenish the reservoirs in this area, including Folsom." Though rain is predicted for the foothills on Thursday and Friday, it could take years before the Folsom reservoir fills to capacity again. “It’s going to take quite a bit above normal amounts of rain to fill that reservoir,” said meteorologist Eric Kurtch with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “We’re well below average and have been for the past two years. It will probably take several wet years to fill it up.” The Placer County Water Agency, upriver from Folsom, is not expecting to cut back on deliveries of water to the San Juan Water District or the city of Roseville. “The snow surveys at the moment for the Yuba River and American River are at about 70 percent,” PCWA General Manager Dave Breninger said. “Our status in Placer County does not have us reacting the way Folsom has,” Breninger said. “PCWA currently has adequate water to meet the needs of our retail customers, as well as for the San Juan Water District and the City of Roseville, from what we see the hydrologic year to be.” Miklos said Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in June and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced in July they were cutting water deliveries to Folsom and other agencies. "The city of Folsom is currently in a stage two water alert, and we will need to move to a stage three water alert in the next few weeks as conditions continue to worsen," he said. As of Feb. 3, the lake sat at 377 feet when measured against the dam, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. City Manager Kerry Miller said stage three was going to mean more restrictions on residents. "I'm not sure if you know what a stage three is," Miller said. "Our water situation is drastic." Miklos said water usage would need to be drastically cut. "This will mean even more stringent water reduction and conservation measures, as well as related ordinances for consideration by this Council," Miklos said. "I ask for our residents’ full cooperation." Some water restrictions include using an even/odd watering system, according to Don Smith of the city's Water Department. "There will be no irrigation (lawn watering) on Monday, Thursday or Friday," he said. "This with an address that ends in an even number will water on Wednesday and Sunday. Address that end with an odd number will water on Tuesday and Saturday." He said most of the conservation is common sense. "You know, no free-flowing hoses (should be used) and there will be no emptying and refilling of ponds or pools without the city's permission," he said. Residents will not be allowed to water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., he said. He cautioned there has been no firm date set to issue the stage three restrictions, but they are looking at late February. He said the city will work with residents on their irrigation systems. "We have a very interactive program where we'll come out and go through their irrigation systems to come up with a strategy for watering their lawns," Smith said. To schedule an appointment with a technician from the Water Management Program, call 355-7252. Doreen, a 38-year Orangevale resident, was walking along the shoreline on Wednesday. She said she was amazed at the low level of the lake. "We come out and get an eye to see where it's at," she said. "I don't think I've ever seen it like this." She asked the Telegraph not to use her last name. According to the city, there are five stages of water alert. They are listed below: Stage 1--Normal Water Supply. 1. Water will be used for beneficial uses; all unnecessary and wasteful uses of water are prohibited. 2. Water shall be confined to the customer's property and shall not be allowed to run off to adjoining property or to the roadside ditch or gutter. Care shall be taken not to water past the point of saturation. 3. Prohibit free-flowing hoses for all uses including vehicle and equipment washing, ponds, evaporative coolers and livestock watering troughs. Attach automatic shut-off devices on any hose or filling apparatus in use. 4. Leaking customer pipes or faulty sprinklers shall be repaired within 5 days or less if warranted by the severity of the problem. 5. All pools, spas and ornamental fountains/ponds shall be equipped with a recirculating pump and shall be constructed to be leakproof. Pool draining and refilling shall be allowed only for health, maintenance or structural considerations. Customer requests must be substantiated in writing by a pool consultant and approved by the city. Stage 2--Water Alert. (First five restrictions are the same). 6. Landscape and pasture irrigation shall be limited to a maximum of 3 days per week when necessary based on the following odd-even schedule. A. Customers with street addresses that end with an odd number may irrigate only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. B. Customers with street addresses that end with an even number may irrigate only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. c. No irrigation is permitted on Mondays. 7. Automatic sprinkler system timers shall be set to operate during off-peak hours between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. 8. Prohibit washing of streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or buildings except as necessary for health, sanitary or fire protection purposes. 9. Restaurants shall serve water only upon specific request. 10. Hand and manual watering follows the same odd/even day schedule and may be done anytime during the cool parts of the day. 11.Homes equipped with drip systems may water using that drip system every day as long as there is no water runoff from the property. 12. Middle of the road landscapes (medians) are to be watered under the even schedule. No water shall over-shoot the planted areas or run off. Stage 3--Water Warning. (First five restrictions are the same.) 6. Landscape and pasture irrigation shall be limited to a maximum of 2 days per week when necessary based on the following odd-even schedule. A. Customers with street addresses that end with an odd number may irrigate only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. B. Customers with street addressed that end with an even number may irrigate only on Wednesdays and Sundays. C. No irrigation is permitted on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. 7. Automatic sprinkler system timers shall be set to operate during off-peak hours between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. 8. Prohibit washing of streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or buildings except as necessary for health, sanitary or fire protection purposes. 9. Restaurants shall serve water only upon specific request. 10. Hand and manual watering follows the same odd/even day schedule and may be done anytime during the cool parts of the day. 11. Homes equipped with drip systems may water using that drip system every day as long as there is no water runoff from the property. 12. Middle of the road landscapes (medians) are to be watered under the even schedule. No water shall over-shoot the planted areas or run off. Stage 4--Water Crisis. (First five restrictions are the same.) 6.Landscape and pasture irrigation shall be limited to a maximum of 1 day per week when necessary based on the following odd-even schedule. A. Customers with street addresses that end with an odd number may irrigate only on Saturdays. B. Customers with street addresses that end with an even number may irrigate only on Sundays. C. No irrigation is permitted on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 7. Automatic sprinkler system timers shall be set to operate during off-peak hours between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. 8. Prohibit washing of streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks or buildings except as necessary for health, sanitary or fire protection purposes. 9.Restaurants shall serve water only upon specific request. 10. No water from the city's system shall be used to fill or refill new swimming pools, artificial lakes, ponds or streams until the water crisis has been declared over. 11. Prohibit water use for ornamental ponds and fountains. 12. Washing of automobiles or equipment shall be done on the lawn or at a commercial establishment that uses recycled or reclaimed water. 13. No water from the city's system shall be used for construction purposes such as dust control, compaction, or trench jetting. 14. Hand and manual watering follows the same odd/even day schedule and may be done anytime during the cool parts of the day. 15. Homes equipped with drip systems may water using that drip system every day as long as there is no water runoff from the property. 16. Middle of the road landscapes (medians) are to be watered under the even schedule. No water shall over-shoot the planted areas or run off. Stage 5--Water Emergency (First five restrictions are the same.) 6. Landscape and pasture irrigation shall not be allowed. 7. Flushing of sewers or fire hydrants is prohibited except in case of an emergency and for essential operations. 8. Prohibit washing of streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, or buildings except as necessary for health, sanitary, or fire protection purposes. 9. Restaurants shall serve water only upon specific request. 10. No water from the city's system shall be used to fill or refill new swimming pools, artificial lakes, ponds or streams until the water crisis has been declared over. 11. Prohibit water use for ornamental ponds and fountains. 12. Washing of automobiles or equipment shall be done at a commercial establishment that uses recycled or reclaimed water. 13. No water from the city's system shall be used for construction purposes such as dust control, compaction, or trench jetting. The Auburn Journal's Bruce Warren contributed to this story.