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Citrus Heights water official talks drought, rain, rates

Updated Feb. 12, 11:55 a.m.–
Wondering how much local rainfall has affected the drought, or if higher water rates are planned for 2015?

A large puddle off Fair Oaks Boulevard, formed after a recent storm brought several inches of rain to the area.

A spokesman for the Citrus Heights Water District said Wednesday that local water users maintained a 20 percent average reduction in consumption for 2014 and shouldn’t anticipate increased drought rates this year, in light of seasonal rainfall totals being near average.

“We are pleased that CHWD customers voluntarily met the California statewide goal for reducing water use in 2014 without the need for penalties or extra enforcement measures,” said David Kane, assistant general manager for the local water district.

Looking ahead at 2015, Kane said the good news is local rainfall totals are “near seasonal averages” – despite January being the driest month in California’s recorded weather history. But the bad news is mountain snow pack is “well-below normal.”

“Unless we get some significant colder storms that deposit a lot of snow, we anticipate needing to continue the District’s current Stage 3 Water Warning status during 2015,” said Kane, adding that snow pack serves as the District’s “reservoir” for water during the summer and fall dry seasons. He added there’s been “no discussion by the Board” of declaring a Stage 4 Water Crisis or implementing drought water shortage rates, but said “the District continues to evaluate water supply conditions as we move closer to spring and summer months.”

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Kane said water savings tips this time of year include fixing any indoor or outdoor leaks, along with the District’s top tip to keep outdoor water turned off.

“Most lawns and landscaping will survive just fine during the winter months during extended dry periods,” said Kane, stating that outdoor watering can often represent more than 50 percent of a customer’s annual water use.

Across California, other water districts have struggled to reach the 20 percent water savings goal, but still helped save a total of 134 billion gallons of water since July of last year, according to a State Water Resources Control Board announcement last week. The Board also said its Emergency Water Conservation Regulation expires on April 25, 2015, but will likely be extended if drought conditions persist.

[Related story: Citrus Heights Water District seeks applicants to fill board vacancy; Deadline Feb. 17]

Calling water a “precious resource,” Kane said he’s hopeful local users will continue their water-efficient practices, regardless if the drought continues.

Despite its name, the Citrus Heights Water District’s service area doesn’t actually cover all of Citrus Heights, although a majority of the city’s residents are included within the District’s boundaries. Some portions of Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Carmichael, and Roseville are also included in the CHWD service area.

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