VACAVILLE — The city’s water supply is secure – for the moment.
But three years into the current drought, and after the driest calendar year in California’s history, there’s no guarantee about the future, public utilities staffers told the City Council on Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s Jan. 17 declaration of a drought emergency in the state, accompanied by his campaign to reduce water consumption by 20 percent, means some changes for how and where Vacaville gets its water.
Utilities director Royce Cunningham presented the report to the council, explaining that the city has three main water sources: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (18,300 acre-feet), Lake Berryessa (8,750 acre-feet) and the city’s groundwater wells (8,000 acre-feet). That’s a total of 35,050 acre-feet.
An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, or the amount of water needed to cover one 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.
Cunningham said with an official drought emergency in the state, Vacaville could see its Delta allotment drop to 5 percent of the usual allotment – or about 1,000 acre-feet.
While that is a steep drop, Cunningham said the city’s average annual consumption is 17,200 acre-feet.
He said the city is allowed to carry over what it doesn’t use from its Berryessa allotment. Vacaville currently has about 18,000 acre-feet in carryover storage in Berryessa, Cunningham said.
The reservoir itself, which serves cities throughout Solano County, remains at about 68 percent of its 1.1 million acre-foot capacity.
“We still have adequate supply for three years at average use,” Cunningham said. “The city is not planning to enact extreme measures yet, including water rationing.”
Mayor Steve Hardy cautioned that even though there is good supply for now, once the water is used, it’s gone. He recalled how an extended drought in the late 1980s and early ’90s ended with massive rainfall in 1991.
“You can’t count on 1991 happening every time,” Hardy said.
Cunningham said the city is looking at ways to save water.
“We are recommending that Vacaville residents and Vacaville businesses practice efficient water use,” he said.
The city is considering modifications to its hydrant flushing practices, to include only flushing half its fire hydrants this year, as well as finding a way to recapture the spent water and return it to the treatment plant, Cunningham said. Watering at city parks and landscaped areas will also likely be reduced, he said.
Residents can reduce consumption in some simple ways, such as shorter showers, watering yards less frequently and installing low-flow shower heads and toilets.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.