By Jessica Law | July 23, 2021 | Sacramento Water Forum
Severe drought conditions are back in California. Unfortunately, that means the Lower American River is headed into what may be some of the worst summer conditions we’ve seen on the river in recent memory.
I won’t sugarcoat it. Conditions in the river will be bad. However, the Water Forum and our partners are working hard to ensure conditions are as good as they can possibly be, and to minimize harm to fish and habitat.
What to expect in the coming months
PHOTO CREDIT: DWR, Lower American River 2014
As you may have seen on the news, we began this year with a near-normal snowpack. In most years, the snowpack melts and feeds our lakes and rivers. This year, the snowpack disappeared in the span of several weeks, soaking into the dry soil or evaporating—perhaps foreshadowing what may turn out to be the case study for climate change impacts on our water supplies and environment.
ECOS, as a Water Forum signatory, is working in concert with all of the Forum members to address the current drought. Unfortunately higher temperatures and periods of drought are increasing in the Sacramento region and we have to prepare for them. The following press release has some important water saving actions you can take and here is another one that will contribute to our current drought situation and the future impacts of climate change as well:
Begin the transition to a beautiful, low-water landscape in your home, business, or public space by removing half of the turf grass this summer. For every one thousand square feet of lawn removed, 90 gallons of water is conserved each time that lawn would have been watered. Now you are ready to add low-water, local native plants and drip irrigation this coming winter. The California Native Plant Society website has information on how to remove your lawn, lists of local native plants that fit your needs and landscape conditions, and tips on how and when to plant them. If you have trees in the lawn area being removed, don’t forget they will still need to be watered.
Landscaping while very important for all of us is a major source of water use. We want beauty and shade in our outdoor spaces; and insects, birds, and animals depend on the plants we choose to survive. Local native plants not only save water, they significantly contribute to the beauty of our region and are critical and highly desirable habitat for local insects, birds and animals.
Ralph Propper, Board President, ECOS
July 8, 2021
Sacramento, Calif. – The following statement was issued today by Jessica Law, Executive Director of the Water Forum, and Sean Bigley, Board Chair of the Regional Water Authority, in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Proclamation of a Drought State of Emergency, expanding the emergency to nine additional counties, and asking the public to voluntarily conserve 15 percent.
“The Governor’s announcement today underscores the severe drought conditions throughout California and in the Sacramento region.
“Sacramento-area leaders across the region’s major municipalities yesterday issued a news release imploring the public to increase their conservation efforts, and we support the Governor’s call for a voluntary 15 percent reduction.
“We understand that the public has continued to conserve since the last drought, and we applaud those efforts. Now, we are asking residents to do more. Increasing conservation this summer will help the environment of the Lower American River and decrease the potential for water shortages in 2022 if drought conditions persist.
“There are many easy and quick water-saving actions that can be taken today, such as dialing back sprinklers by two minutes (while continuing to water your trees), making sure sprinklers and drip irrigation run in the morning, adding mulch to conserve moisture and fixing household leaks.
“Also, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the many rebate programs available to help with downsizing or replacing a thirsty lawn with beautiful low-water plants or upgrading to efficient irrigation and fixtures.
“You can find more water-saving tips, information about rebates and landscape watering guidelines at BeWaterSmart.info.”
The Sacramento Water Forum is a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizen groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments working together to balance two co-equal objectives: to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and to preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Learn more at waterforum.org.
The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is a joint powers authority representing 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the greater Sacramento region. Formed in 2001, its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at rwah2o.org.
On June 1, 2021, Habitat 2020 hosted a presentation/discussion led by Jessica Law, Executive Director of the Sacramento Water Forum.
Jessica’s presentation was focused on the projected conditions of the Folsom Reservoir and the American River as we move through the current drought year and what these conditions portend for the Lower American River, the fisheries in it, and the environment around it. Jessica provided us the results of ongoing analysis done by her consulting staff on water flows and temperatures projected to occur that result from the Bureau’s reservoir operations including their impacts on the fisheries. She also briefed us on discussions she is having with the Bureau and other agencies involved in river operations. finally, Jessica discussed the Folsom Reservoir and American River operations, flows, and temperature objectives the Water Forum is working to have the Bureau and others adopt for this year.