Presentation on drought in Mount Shasta was first of a series

Lauren Steinheimer
Water Talks program manager Meadow Fitton facilitated the first in a series of free informational events focused on water conservation in Mount Shasta Tuesday, March 10, 2015 in the community building.

Speakers during Tuesday night’s presentation on drought in Mount Shasta focused on the disparity between water supply and demand and infrastructure improvements planned for the city of Mount Shasta this year.

Pointing to the severity of drought conditions throughout the state, California Department of Water Resources Chief of Drought Operations William Croyle showed a slide of unfortunate milestones – 2014 was the warmest year on record in the state; 2012 to 2014 was the driest three-year span; and water reservoir levels are below-average statewide.

So far, Coyle warned, “2015 is warmer and drier. It’s not just a half a degree or a tenth of a degree, it’s looking like maybe two degrees.”

He added that snowpack is currently about 15% of what is typically expected.

Other featured speakers were Mount Shasta Mayor Geoff Harkness and Public Works Director Rod Bryan, and Paul Reuter, president of PACE Engineering.

The first California Trout Water Talks program of the year, titled “Preparing our City and Community for Drought,” drew a full audience at the Mount Shasta Community Building. It was also the first in a series of educational talks focused on water conservation scheduled for this year.

Harkness contributed local data about the city’s water usage. He said that Cold Springs, Mount Shasta’s water source, reached a 20-year low in 2014.

He explained that the city relies on two wells to supplement its water during the summer months, when demand exceeds the spring’s supply. He said Mount Shasta uses 3.5 times the amount of water per person as Dunsmuir and 2.9 times the amount used in Weed. Mount Shasta’s average is 366 gallons of water per person per day.

The city has received a $4.2 million Prop. 84 grant award for two big projects related to drought. The first is replacement of the 80 year old supply line that transports the water from Cold Springs to tank #4, the primary storage area on Quail Hill.

Replacement of the supply line will eliminate leaks that are likely present due to the age of the current pipe and increase efficiency of the tank.

Harkness said the current line is also difficult to access when there is snow on the ground.

The second project is the installation of water meters throughout the city. Tuesday evening’s speakers shared data indicating that the presence of home water meters immediately reduces water consumption by 20 to 30 percent.

Coyle said increased data reporting helps with water conservation efforts in the household, and public works director Bryan said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Reuter explained that the city decided on the Sensus iPERL water meter due to its minimal RF emittance. “We’re going to be working with city staff in the next week or two in developing a mailer they can send out with water bills to everybody and kind of describe the notification process and what to expect.”

More information about the timeline of the water meter installation project will be included in the mailers.

Information, graphics and a video related to the city’s water usage and infrastructure is available on the city’s website http://www.mtshastaca.gov/publicworks/conservation.php.

The following future Water Talks about drought are scheduled:

• May 21 – Beat the Drought: Water Conservation Inside and Outside. Local and regional experts will discuss “innovative ways to improve your water use efficiency” both inside and outside your residence or business.

• Oct. 21: Drought Policy Conversation. Mount Shasta city staff and state experts will participate in a “facilitated community brainstorm on the best drought policies.”

All Water Talks will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mt. Shasta Community Building.

Water Talks manager Meadow Fitton said the program has been going on since 2008 and, “it’s an ongoing series of informational presentations on water related topics. This is our 26th program... and 76 local and regional experts have volunteered their time to share their information with the community on a variety of topics.”

Information on the Water Talks program can be found at http://www.californiawatertalks.org.