gmhTODAY 06 gmhToday Jan Feb 2016 - Page 17

community ’ s water-saving efforts , and said the Water District wants to continue its 30 % water use reduction goal from 2015 into the new year , but a lot more needs to be done . “ Even with El Niño , it will take several more wet winters to return to normal or desirable groundwater levels .”

The water we depend on comes to us through a complex system , but here ’ s a simplified look at how the Water District breaks it down .
Water Sources :
55 % imported 40 % through the San Joaquin Delta 15 % from the Hetch Hetchy system 40 % local ( groundwater , reservoirs ) 5 % recycled water
Water Use : 50 % environmental ( recharging the groundwater ) 50 % multi-use 40 % agricultural ( farms , vineyards , golf courses , ranches ) 10 % urban ( residential / industrial )
According to the Water District , farmers have been effectively conserving water for quite some time . Farmers , ranchers and vineyard owners are also exploring technology-based solutions to customize their planting , growing and grazing operations for faster response to changing climate and drought conditions and increased water efficiency . Meanwhile , golf courses are making use of recycled water .
“ We ’ ll continue to need water conservation measures ,” Goldie said , “ but the future is really in recycled water .” Last October the Water District hosted an open house at its Advanced Water Purification Center where 650 attendees sampled the facility ’ s purified treated wastewater . While government regulations don ’ t yet allow distribution of this water to households , Goldie explained that “ it is pure , clean and safe to drink .”
The advanced purification center uses the processes of microfiltration , reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light disinfection with advanced oxidation in order to purify recycled wastewater . The facility ’ s daily output of up to 8 million gallons of purified water is then blended with recycled water before it is distributed to more than 800
South Bay water recycling customers for irrigation and industrial uses .
The water district also plans to use the purified water to replenish the county ’ s groundwater basins by 2022 , or sooner if possible , to help augment overall drinking water supplies with more than 14 billion gallons a year of new local water . The purified recycled water will be injected into the groundwater basin and recharge areas in the western part of the county instead of pumping and discharging it into the San Francisco Bay .
Our reservoirs , rivers and streams need a lot of TLC too .
Plans for the seismic retrofit of Anderson Dam have been pushed out , with construction slated to occur between 2017 and 2020 . Currently , structural weakness in the dam makes it vulnerable to failure in the event of a significant earthquake , and prohibits filling it to capacity . Anderson Dam is the county ’ s largest reservoir with a capacity greater than all of the other county reservoirs combined .
Retrofit project plans call for construction of a coffer dam , installation of buttresses and upgrades to the spillway . The water level will have to be lowered before work can begin . It ’ s a delicate balancing act between water storage needs and dam safety requirements .
“ We need a two-year period when we can go without the use of Anderson Dam in order to move forward on the construction .” Goldie said , adding that the Water District follows guidelines from the Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams to maintain a conservatively safe water level at Anderson .
In an El Niño year , flood control is also a priority . Many local residents and merchants still remember the hassle and cost of flood damage and cleanup in past years . The Water District has worked closely with Morgan Hill and Gilroy city departments and the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Uvas and Llagas Creeks clear of debris . Local percolation ponds have been cleaned up . In November , various agencies teamed up with community volunteers to fill sand bags .
Rewards for Water Savers
Many county residents are hoping to take advantage of water conservation rebate programs in 2016 . Last year , rebate programs were offered for approved landscape conversions ( turf replacement ),
“ California saved 253.4 billion gallons of water in 4 months . From June through September 2015 , Californians saved 777,739 acre-feet of water , which is 65 % of the state goal to save 1.2 million acre-feet by February 2016 .”
State Water Board October 30th 2015
Our Water Profile for 2016
To make a dent in the drought , this winter ’ s Sierra snowpack needs to provide 39 inches of snow water content by April 1 2016 .
To support the snowpack , average winter minimum temperatures in the Sierra need to drop by 6 degrees from last year ’ s average – from 32 to 26 degrees .
To break the drought , Northern California rainfall needs to be about 120 % of average – 60 inches – in key watersheds .
Surface water delivery to farms was down by 8.7 million acre-feet in 2015 .
Four years of drought have reduced key reservoirs to about 1 / 3 of capacity or less .
According to NOAA , without snow in the Sierras , local storms won ’ t be enough to end the drought .
Even with El Niño , drought conditions may return next year . California may face a “ new normal ” in terms of extreme droughts and floods due to climate change .
Association of California Water Agencies , 2015
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