Current Water Supply Levels
Drought Condition Update
The Sonoma County Water Agency's service area is currently facing drought conditions after experiencing two dry years and the driest year on record in 2013. View a graph comparing 120 years of rainfall data that shows 2013 as the driest on record.
It rained! Is the drought over?
The drought is still on despite recent rainfall. Water supply levels in both Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma remain below average (see graphs below). A total of 12.89 inches of rainfall has fallen in Santa Rosa since July 1; average annual rainfall is 24.19 inches. Ukiah has received 9.66 inches of rainfall; average annual rainfall is 28.94 inches.
Governor Brown declares a statewide drought emergency
On January 17 Governor Brown declared a drought emergency that includes 20 action points. Read the governor's statement and declaration. The Water Agency is coordinating with the appropriate state agencies to ensure all action items within its jurisdiction are being met. Many of these action items, including the implementation of a public awareness campaign, has already been implemented by the Water Agency and its contractors - otherwise known as the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. Read below to learn what the Water Agency is doing to address the drought. Read the Water Agency's statement in response to the declaration.
What caused the drought?
Several consecutive dry years on top of the driest year on record in 2013 has culminated into a drought for the Water Agency's service area. Water supply storage levels in both of the Water Agency's reservoirs - Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma - are at historic lows. Most critical is Lake Mendocino at 41% of water supply storage capacity. View photos taken of Lake Mendocino here.
(Lake Mendocino, December 15, 2013)
How is the drought impacting the Water Agency's reservoirs?
The Sonoma County Water Agency manages the water supply storage within Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma. Lake Mendocino relies on year-to-year rainfall to fill and water diverted from the Potter Valley Project, which has been reduced by more than half. Lake Mendocino is a key drinking water source for the cities of Ukiah, Healdsburg, Cloverdale and Hopland, and also provides water to the Water Agency’s Russian River water supply system. Water releases from Lake Mendocino support flows in the Russian River for the threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead trout during the fall and winter seasons. Lake Sonoma is about four times larger than Lake Mendocino and can provide multiple years of water supply under the current drought. Lake Sonoma provides a majority of the Water Agency's service area with drinking water.
Are mandatory conservation orders in place?
No mandatory conservation measures have been put into place within the Water Agency's service area, which includes the cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Windsor, Sonoma, Cotati and the Valley of the Moon, North Marin and Marin Municipal Water District. This is mainly because the Water Agency relies on Lake Sonoma to provide a majority of its water supply and the lake is currently 70% of capacity with multiple years of water supply remaining.
Who has issued mandatory or voluntary orders?
Sonoma County Water Agency General Manager Grant Davis on February 3 called on residents of the cities and water districts it serves to reduce their water use by 20 percent. View a video statement from General Manager Grant Davis.
Below is a list of cities and water districts that have issued mandatory and voluntary conservation orders in the North Bay along with their percentage reduction request:
City of Healdsburg: 20% effective January 22,2014
City of Cloverdale: 25% effective January 23, 2014
Marin Municipal Water District: 25% effective January 22, 2014
Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership members have each approved a resolution seeking 20% voluntary water reduction per the governor's drought emergency declaration
What is the Water Agency doing?
The Water Agency is utilizing many tools in responding to the drought, such as:
Improving reservoir management: On December 31, 2013, the State Water Resources Control Board issued an Order approving the Water Agency's petition for temporary urgency change to improve reservoir management of Lake Mendocino. This order will help preserve water in Lake Mendocino by reducing reservoir water releases and preserving every drop of water in the lake. For additional information, please see:
- Order approving Temporary Urgency Change
- December 2013 Temporary Urgency Change Petition
- Press release
Budgetary adjustment: The Sonoma County Water Agency is working with its water contractors to develop a budget for the next fiscal year that forecasts reduced water sales as a result of the 20 percent conservation request. This proactive financial managment includes utilizing reserved funds to ensure rate stabilization during the drought. It is the Water Agency's goal to help our community reduce water use during this drought and be fiscally responsible. View the Water Agency's financial proposal. Read a related article.
Public outreach: The Sonoma County Water Agency along with the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership launched an unusual wintertime public awareness with the following message: The drought is on. Turn your water off. The goal of the effort is to increase public awareness about the drought and provide conservation tips. The multimedia effort may be viewed on the Partnership's website at www.wateroff.org.
Current Year vs. Average For This Date
The Water Agency continues to work proactively with key stakeholders in the upper Russian River watershed to efficiently manage water resources. To improve atmospheric river forecasting, the Water Agency is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydrometeorological Testbed Program. The region receives most of its rainfall in these atmospheric river events which have occurred with reduced frequency and intensity in recent years. Additionally, the Water Agency is implementing long term projects that will provide secure and reliable water supplies for the future including programs for the sustainable management of groundwater resources in the Alexander Valley, Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma Valley as well as implementation of water reuse programs throughout our service area.
Water Conservation Tips:
The Water Agency encourages its community to help save water by following these tips:
Source: Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership, www.wateroff.org.
News Articles on Drought
Countywide water limits likely in April
February 26, 2014
Water Agency to use reserve funds to avoid steep rate hikes
February 3, 2014
Drought declaration underscores state's water woes
January 17, 2014
Sonoma County Water Agency launches conservation effort
January 8, 2014
Local officials want to keep more water in Lake Mendocino
January 3, 2014
PD Editorial: Time for action on saving water
January 3, 2014
Water officials cut Russian River releases from Lake Mendocino
January 2, 2014
A woeful year of rainfall may bring water limits for 2014
December 31, 2013
County seeks retool of water policy
December 20, 2013
Drought concerns plague state
December 19, 2013
Sonoma Index Tribune
Sonoma County seeks state's OK to cut Russian River water releases
December 15, 2013
Weather Forecast - When Will it Rain?
Not to scale, 1 Acre-Foot (AF) = 325,851 gallons
Daily Reservoir Operation Status
The Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) is the local cost-sharing partner for Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, and determines the amount of water to be released when the lake levels are in the water supply pools. The US Army Corps of Engineers determines the amount of water to be released when the lake levels are above the water supply pools and in the flood control pools.
The Russian River is a managed river system with reservoir releases controlling river flows, especially throughout most of the summer and fall. When tributary stream flows are low, the Water Agency releases water stored in the reservoirs to supplement the natural flows in the Russian River to provide adequate flows for water supply, recreation and aquatic habitat. A release from a reservoir can be categorized as being of ‘pass-through water’ or ‘stored water’. The term ‘project water’ is often used instead of stored water and is used to describe water that is present because of the dam and reservoir project. Pass-through water is water flowing into the reservoir that is not stored in, but passes through, the reservoir. Project water releases to supplement the natural flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek are necessary to meet mandatory minimum streamflow requirements that exist for both of these watercourses.
*Note each day after March 1, the Water Supply Pool in Lake Mendocino is allowed to encroach into the Flood Control Pool, thus resulting in changing Water Supply and Flood Control pool numbers.
*cfs—cubic feet per second
*cfs—cubic feet per second
*cfs—cubic feet per second
Water Agency Drinking Water Production, Demand, Storage, and Weather Data
Disclaimer: The above data is based on provisional data that is subject to revision.