Drought – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: DR-20120315-34526-USA
Date / time: 15/03/2012 13:09:42 [UTC]
Event: Drought
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of California
Location: [St. Helena region]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: Moderate


Soaking rains notwithstanding, the St. Helena City Council declared a water emergency Tuesday, imposing mandatory water restrictions on local customers. The Phase I water emergency will take effect Thursday, March 22, when the city plans to run an ad in the Star explaining the restrictions. Water customers will be prohibited from installing new plumbing fixtures that will cause an increase in water use, building new swimming pools that will be filled with city water, and washing hard surfaces like sidewalks and patios. New development must be “water-neutral” — any increase in water use must be offset by water conservation measures. The city has been imposing that condition anyway. Customers will be “encouraged” to limit indoor residential water use to 75 gallons per person per day, reduce indoor commercial use by 10 percent, and defer non-essential water uses such as filling and topping off swimming pools. Most water rationing measures will only become mandatory if the council declares a Phase II emergency. This is the first time the council has declared a water emergency under the new system it adopted last October, which contains three phases instead of five and factors in all of the city’s water sources instead of just the Bell Canyon reservoir. The emergency declaration was actually based on a complex calculation the city’s Safe Yield Committee arrived at last November, when it declared that the city’s water demand of 2,083 acre-feet exceeded its “safe annual yield” of 1,950 acre-feet. Under the new system, the council may declare a Phase I water emergency when its “supply/usage balance” is in deficit. Even though that criterion was met in November, the water emergency was only now coming before the council. Public Works Director John Ferons said that under the new system, the Phase I restrictions will probably stay in effect at least through the end of June, regardless of rainfall. A Phase II emergency could be declared based on other supply/demand calculations explained in Municipal Code section 13.04.230.

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