Friday, February 27, 2009

Governor Declares Drought Emergency

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a state of emergency because California is in the third year of a drought.

His declaration sets the stage for additional steps to conserve water statewide.

"This is a crisis, just as severe as an earthquake or raging wildfire, and we must treat it with the same urgency by upgrading California's water infrastructure to ensure a clean and reliable water supply for our growing state," he said.

Here at CCWD, the announcement was expected. Last week, we received news of a severe 50 percent reduction in our water supply from the Bureau of Reclamation, and last year asked customers to conserve water voluntarily.

The District has already announced it is likely to ask its customers for mandatory reductions depending upon upcoming announcements of water supply.

We are continuously providing information to our customers along with providing rebates for homeowners and businesses that purchase water-saving toilets and washing machines. CCWD also provides to all of its customers free water saving devices such as low-flow showerheads and on-site conservation surveys.

On Wednesday, CCWD's Board of Directors is scheduled to take the first step in implementing CCWD's Drought Management Plan. At that meeting, the Board will consider declaring a water shortage condition and direct preparation of a ordinance to include water use reduction goals.

The board is expected to vote on CCWD's Drought Management Plan at its April 1 meeting.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Lawn Out - Nature In' A Success

There was standing room only of more than 40 people at the “Lawn Out-Nature In” talk by Troy McGregor last weekend in Clayton.

The talk was sponsored by the Markham Regional Arboretum Society and the Contra Costa Water District and is the first of four garden talks this year.

Troy reviewed various methods of removing your lawn, none of which are easy. Removing a lawn around an existing tree is even harder. Troy emphasized replacing your lawn with native plants, and planning your irrigation system before you plant.

He has a web site here: and you can see his slides from Saturday's talk here.

We’ll let you know when the next talk takes place.

Bringing Back the Natives May 3

CCWD is a long-time sponsor of the annual "Bringing Back The Natives Garden Tour" on Sunday, May 3.

This popular tour -- which won a Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in 2008 -- shows you how your neighbors have been able to use native plants to cut down their water use, and still have beautiful gardens.

Friday, February 20, 2009

CCWD Likekly To Look At Mandatory Water Use Restrictions

Contra Costa Water District General Manager Walter J. Bishop said CCWD is likely looking at mandatory water use restrictions in order to meet severe water allocation restrictions announced by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today.

The Bureau released its initial water supply forecast for the Central Valley Project on Friday, stating CCWD would receive 50 percent of its contracted supply of water.

The forecast is based on precipitation through Feb. 1, before the latest series of storms swept across the state.

The District is the largest municipal contractor of water from the project.

“This announcement from Reclamation is not a surprise as this is the third consecutive dry year. Fortunately, we have been preparing for this announcement since last year," Mr. Bishop said.

"CCWD has planned ahead," he said "and prepared a drought management program that protects jobs and the local economy, recognizes the conservation measures customers have made and encourages reductions primarily on outdoor water use. The more water you use, the more you will need to save.”

The program will provide water allocations based on customers’ historical water use. CCWD is not raising rates, but customers that do not reduce their consumption would pay penalty charges. CCWD will continue to monitor the water supply outlook and a decision on imposing water use restrictions will be considered at the Board of Directors’ meeting on April 1.

Reclamation’s allocations to CVP contractors are updated each month during the spring and change as the water year develops. The outlook also assumes below-normal precipitation conditions through the spring. Reclamation is expected to update allocations again in mid-March.

Look here for more information on CCWD's proposed water use restrictions.

See Reclamations' news release here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

CCWD Drought Management Program

CCWD has sent a notice to its treated and untreated water customers about the District's proposed Drought Management Program.

A Public Hearing on the program will be held April 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the CCWD Board Room located at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord.

If the program is instituted, it will start on May 1.

CCWD will not be raising water rates as part of its drought program. However, the District is proposing to implement a penalty charge for customers who do not conserve. Customers who meet the conservation goals will save money since they are using less water.

The proposed penalty charge will be based on a sliding scale with a maximum charge of ten-times the quantity charge of the District’s adopted rates.

We've got a slide presentation that explains how the program will work, you can see it here as a PDF file.

Have a questions or concerns? Give me a call at (925) 688-8175 of send an e-mail to me at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Rain! Rain Feel Good' -- Tarzan

Here at the Water District, we love that quote.

So far, February has brought nothing but good news in terms of rain locally and snow in the Sierra. Even though it has rained pretty solidly the last few days, we still have a lot of catching up to do.

At our Bollman Water Treatment Plant, we’ve measured 3.4 inches of rain in February, and that doesn’t count the deluge today (Feb. 17). We’ve had measureable rain in all but six days so far this month, compared to only six days of rain in January. Another big storm is forecasted to arrive this weekend.

In the Bay Area, rainfall is now about 80 percent of the average for this time of year.

If you have friends who ski, they’ve been talking about all the snow.

All that’s good and we’re encouraged, but the drought isn’t over.

Up in the Northern Sierra -- where much of the water in the Delta originates – snowfall totals are moving up. That’s what we’re watching here at the District, since the snowpack is like a giant reservoir holding water until the spring and summer months.

As of this morning, the snowfall total was 23.5 inches. That’s less than what it normally is at this time (January was incredibly dry in the Sierra as well) and remember most of the major reservoirs in the state are still well below where they should be. Shasta is about 45 percent of where it should be at this time of year.

We’ve kinda enjoyed replacing the windshield wipers on the car and digging the umbrellas out from the back of the closet…but we need a lot more rain and snow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

'Lawn Out - Nature In' Coming Up Feb. 21

Does the drought have you thinking of replacing that thirsty lawn with a more sustainable solution?

The Markham Regional Arboretum Society in Concord and CCWD are sponsoring "Lawn Out-Nature In!" on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. at the Oakhurst County Club in Clayton.

Troy McGregor, owner of Garden Natives Nursery in Martinez, has lots of strategies to help.

The cost is $10 per person, more details are here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Welcome to CCWD's Water Conservation Blog

I'll update the blog regularly with news about the drought and how you can save water to help all of us get through what looks to be a difficult spring and summer.

As I write this first post on Feb. 12, it's raining in Concord.

That's good news, but we're way behind in rainfall and -- more importantly -- snowfall in the Sierra. We need a lot of precipitation to catch up after two years of drought that has left reservoirs throughout the state well-below their normal storage supplies.

Even thought it's raining today, water rationing may be unavoidable this spring.

We are committed to implementing a rationing plan that is fair. We are also assisting our customers by providing rebates on water-saving appliances like toilets and washing machines, free conservation devices and information from the professionals in our Water Conservation Department.

You can find out more on our water conservation web site at

Please send a comment or a question, and we'll get right back to you.