VACAVILLE — The city won’t divert any additional water into Lagoon Valley Lake until the state lifts drought-related restrictions, Vacaville City Council members heard Tuesday.
Stephen Sawyer, assistant director of utilities for Vacaville, said the city would face fines for violating state curtailment of water diversions.
Councilman Curtis Hunt said the $10,000 per day fine is scary but the city staff said the state pursues that amount only when municipalities willfully disobey measures.
Sawyer showed a 2008 photo of Lagoon Valley Lake when low rainfall left the lake essentially dry.
His report to the council about the current state restriction noted, “This is a very rare and extreme action by the state.”
A total of 780 acre-feet of water is stored in the lake under water rights established in 1978, Sawyer stated. An earthen dam was built in the mid-20th century at Lagoon Valley Lake, historically a topographic depression where seasonal water would pond, Sawyer wrote.
Curtailing water diversions will allow downstream water right holders with senior water rights to get entitled water, he said. The Maine Prairie Water District east of Vacaville and other agricultural interests have senior water rights, according to the report.
Water now in the lake can remain there. Diversions will be curtailed until the state lifts restrictions.
Vacaville will have to monitor lake surface level. An outlet pipe with a control gate in the dam can lower water level.
“The curtailment notices are fortunately very rare, and are a response to an extreme situation – the severe drought California is experiencing,” Tim Moran, spokesman for the state Water Resources Board, said Monday.
“There have been curtailments in previous droughts, but this is the first time curtailment has gone to this extent since 1977,” he said.
The state Water Resources Board issued guidelines for restrictive water use in mid-July that became effective at the end of July. They prohibit such things as watering lawns and landscaping in such a way that water flows off the property, washing cars with a hose that’s not fitted with a shut-off nozzle, washing down sidewalks and driveways, and operating decorative fountains or other water features that do not make use of recirculating water.
Violators are subject to fines of up to $500.
Drought and a slight chance of thunderstorm prompted the National Weather Service on Monday to declare a red flag warning for Solano County and adjacent counties. The warning lasted until 11 a.m. Tuesday.
A low pressure system off the coast was expected to move inland into Tuesday. That type of pattern has historically brought widespread lightning to Northern California, the warning said. There was a chance of fires from lightning strikes and of gusty and erratic winds up to 40 mph that could cause fires to grow.
The drought has also placed the water supplies of nearby communities at risk.
Solano County in April was poised to ship water from Lake Berryessa to neighboring Napa County cities as those communities struggled to meet water demands. Some late season rainfall put an end to the water transfer plan once it became clear that the North Bay Aqueduct from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would likely remain open this summer.
The Vacaville City Council agreed in May to sell up to 4,000 acre-feet of water to Benicia, which was running out of water due to the drought.
Vacaville has three sources of water: the State Water Project; the Solano Project, whose water source is Lake Berryessa; and groundwater. Benicia’s only source is the State Water Project. Fairfield receives water from Lake Berryessa and from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta via the state’s North Bay Aqueduct.
The Lake Berryessa reservoir, owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has no water allotment cutbacks this year. The large reservoir, though in Napa County, almost exclusively serves Solano County farms and cities.
An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, or the amount of water needed to cover an acre with water a foot deep. This is enough water to serve two California families for a year, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Barry Eberling and Glen Faison contributed to this report. Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]