‘Reliable’ levels for summer
Mammoth’s unique status as the area with the biggest snowpack in the Sierra this year may not be enough to stave off water restrictions.
The Mammoth area stands out with a snowpack that came in at about 82 percent of normal, compared to about 52 percent of normal for the Sierra overall, and lower than that in places like the Southern Sierra.
Since the winter of 2011-12 was also a drier than normal winter for Mammoth, the cumulative effects of two dry winters will soon begin to take a toll on ground water supplies, according to the Mammoth Community Water District.
At a special meeting held on April 22, the district’s board of directors voted unanimously to keep in effect a resolution declaring a threat of a water shortage and Level 1 water restrictions, according to the district in a recent news release.
The resolution asks the public for a voluntary 10 percent reduction in water use.
Outdoor irrigation is the single biggest use of water in the summer, so small changes at that level can easily save 10 percent without sacrificing a green, healthy lawn, water district officials said (see box to learn how to conserve landscaping water).
In addition, according to district spokesperson Irene Yamashita, the district is not granting any variances that would allow residents and landscapers to add much more lawn, water during the day, or other possible variances.
“We are not allowing people to add new turf, or to re-seed except for up to five percent of existing lawn,” she said.
“We saw some recharge of the aquifers this winter, but some are already showing a decline. It typically takes two years to recharge an aquifer and we have had two drier than normal years in a row.
“It is our policy to recharge the aquifers whenever possible, which is why we are asking for this 10 percent reduction in water use now.”
She said the resolution was initially passed in April 2012 after measurements of the April 1 snowpack water content for that year showed the water supply was just 47 percent of normal.
The staff also told the board that the National Climate Prediction Center forecasts show above normal temperatures this spring and a drier than normal summer.
“We should encourage people to remain mindful of the state’s water situation and support water conservation when and where ever possible,” said the board’s director, Tom Cage.
How to save water and still have a green lawn
Level 1 Restrictions means that the district is requesting that all customers voluntarily reduce their normal water use by 10 percent.
Here’s how to do it:
After snow melts and lawn is exposed
Ongoing lawn maintenance:
nIndoor reductions of 10 percent can be met with small changes in how water is being used. For example, only run the dishwasher and clothes washer with full loads, refrain from using the toilet as a wastebasket, fix leaky faucets and toilet flappers (use food coloring drops to check for leaking toilets), and take advantage of the district’s rebate programs for installing high-efficiency toilets, clothes washers, and showerheads.