It’s time to save your water

The lake may be up, but city still seeks 20 percent conservation
By: Bridget Jones, Special to the Telegraph
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City officials are urging Folsom residents to conserve water. Folsom is currently at stage three water restrictions, which means residents are being asked to cut down on their water use by 20 percent, and outdoor watering is only allowed two days a week. “The biggest thing about stage three is outdoor watering is limited to two days a week,” said Don Smith, water management coordinator for the City of Folsom. “The biggest single use of water in a suburban city like Folsom is outdoor use.” While we’ve had another year of low precipitation, Folsom Lake is now up to 74 percent of capacity after recent rains. This percentage is a recovery from January when the lake was at 22 percent of capacity, and February when the lake had only gone up to 25 percent of capacity. Still, city officials say they are trying to avoid possible future problems by leaving water restrictions at stage three. “Right now we’re staying at stage three to be prudent,” Smith said. “We want people to understand these are things we have to do. It’s about trying to look ahead and be ready for (a potential problem) instead of scrambling at the last minute. We want to be ready now.” Smith said part of the reason for this cautionary action is the local water system relies not only on Folsom Lake but on other bodies of water that aren’t recovering as quickly as Folsom Lake. “The level of Folsom Lake is the most critical component … but it also has to do with the level of Shasta (Reservoir) and (Lake) Oroville as well,” he said. “Even though Folsom Lake is filling, Oroville and Shasta are still much worse off than Folsom.” While water conservation is being enforced, Smith said water bill rates will not be affected. City officials believe the current water restrictions will have a very positive result, because local water-users were able to drop their water consumption 20 percent when stage two restrictions were set in September 2008, said Smith. “We got a very good response from the city – from water customers,” he said. Lea Fulwiler, a Folsom resident for eight years, said the restrictions don’t affect her, but she supports them. “It doesn’t really impact me because I live in a little gated area … and we have gardeners, so they take care of the landscaping,” Fulwiler said. “I think we need to conserve where we can until we have that Folsom Lake up and we know we have that water storage under control. I think (the city) made the right call.” Victor Riviello, a Folsom resident for two and a half years, said he doesn’t really mind the water restrictions, but he thinks the city may be taking the situation a little too far. “I do try to conserve if I can,” Riviello said. “My opinion of Folsom in general is that it’s a little too strict and conservative. It wasn’t the best winter, but it wasn’t a bad winter.” Riviello said he’s not too worried about the level of the lake, because of the melted snow that will be coming down from the mountains. Fulwiler said she agrees that melted snow will help raise the lake, but doesn’t see a problem with being cautious until that happens. “I think I’m feeling confident that after the snow (melts) we’re going to have (the lake) full again,” she said. “Before we get the real hot weather I don’t think it’s a big deal now to cut back on our watering.” Smith said the city may know by April or May if water restrictions will be raised to level four. This would mean water-users could only water outdoors once a week. Currently residents who use the drip system for irrigation are exempt from watering limits, but under stage four drip irrigation would also only be allowed once a week. Smith said he encourages residents to make sure their outdoor watering systems, such as timed sprinklers, are working properly to further conservation. Residents interested in making a free appointment for a city technician to come inspect their watering systems can call the Folsom Utilities Department at 355-7252. “I really want to stress that the city’s water management program is here to provide assistance,” Smith said. “If (water-users) have any concerns they should call. We want to help as much as we can.” Bridget Jones can be reached at