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Redwood Valley Meeting on Water Emergency

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal

The Redwood Valley Water District board voted unanimously Thursday to hold a public meeting to declare a water emergency in the wake of a regulatory decision that will cut in half its withdrawals from Lake Mendocino.

As per a term of the water district’s agreement with the Sonoma County Water Agency, the district must reduce withdrawals from the lake to half of the average for the month over the last three years if storage in the lake drops below 30,000 acre-feet.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, storage in Lake Mendocino on Wednesday was 29,594 acre-feet.

This means the district will only be allowed to draw 30 acre-feet of water from the lake in December.

Declaration of a water emergency will allow the board to activate an ordinance it passed earlier this year, said district General Manager Bill Koehler.

The ordinance allows for phased enforcement of conservation measures in the district, all the way up to mandatory conservation under certain conditions.

Currently, the board is only considering voluntary conservation, Koehler said. A letter is being sent out to district customers informing them that, if the declaration of emergency passes, the board will be asking for an immediate cessation of the use of agricultural water and an increase in voluntary conservation of domestic water use to 40 percent. Water district customers have already achieved 30 percent voluntary reduction.

Koehler said those measures would remain in place until the board’s December meeting, when the situation would be re-evaluated.

The public meeting to make a decision on declaring a water emergency will be held within the next two weeks, the exact date to be announced soon, Koehler said.

Ben Brown can be reached at udjbb@pacific.net.