Yuba City's water supply outlook in 2015 is grim, and there is a possibility that water demand may exceed supply.
Public Works Director Diana Langley spelled out the city's options to the Yuba City City Council at Tuesday's meeting and recommended the city continue to implement mandatory water use restrictions for the rest of the year.
In the worst case scenario, demand could exceed supply by an estimated 1,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons.
There are two wildcards in the question of the city's 2015 supply: The city's final allocation from the State Water Project and the amount of water its residents conserve.
Currently, the city's State Water Project allocation is 25 percent of the total contract supply of 9,600 acre-feet. But with the dry weather showing little signs of abating, Langley said she expects the allocation will drop to 5 percent, which was the city's final allocation in 2014.
If the city's final SWP allocation is 5 percent, it will have an available supply of 13,850 acre-feet in 2015, which is 1,540 acre- feet less than the amount of water used in 2014.
However, mandatory water restrictions were only implemented in September 2014. If those restrictions are in place for a full year, as Langley recommended, the city projected the 2015 water demand will be 14,850 acre feet — still 1,000 acre-feet short of the city's supply at the 5 percent SWP allocation.
The city is looking into options to bolster its supply that include purchasing short-term transfer water and installing or re-commissioning additional groundwater wells, Langley said.
The city can also purchase water from the Department of Water Resource's Dry Year Water Purchase Program. Last year, the city purchased 53 acre-feet from the program.
But all these measures mean the cost to the city of providing water will increase. The city is conducting a water rate study, which will include a water shortage rate structure that will reflect the additional cost of acquiring water during dry years, Langley said.
And if the drought continues in 2016, the water supply situation will be even more dire. The city is expecting to use the remainder of its banked carryover water storage.
Carryover water is water the city received, but did not use. Instead, it was banked and reserved for dry years.
In 2015, the city projects to use the rest of its carryover supply — 2,700 acre- feet, which is almost 20 percent of the city's 2015 supply if the SWP allocation is 5 percent.
The vast majority of the city's water supply comes from the Feather River.
Restrictions will likely remain in place
Mandatory water restrictions in Yuba City will likely remain in place for the rest of the year.
This means that outdoor watering of lawns is limited to no more than two times per week.
Even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Odd-numbered addresses can water on Thursdays and Sundays.
New lawns can be watered three times per week for the first three weeks.
Using a hose for outdoor uses is also not permitted unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle.
Violating these restrictions will result in a warning for the first offense. A $50 surcharge will be added to the next water bill for the second offense. A third violation will be a $100 fine and a fourth violation means a $250 fine. The city has issued 1,160 violations to date.
Water conservation is more critical than ever as Yuba City faces a potential water shortage in 2015. Here are some tips to help reduce water use from Cal Water and Yuba City.
• Take five-minute showers instead of 10-minute showers. This can save about 4,500 gallons annually.
• Fix leaky faucets. This can save up to 3,000 gallons.
• While you're waiting for your shower water to heat up, collect the cold water in a bucket and use it to water plants or wash dishes.
• Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge to avoid running the tap water to wait for it to cool down.
• Install mulch around trees and plants, which reduces evaporation, keeps the soil cool and reduces watering frequency.
• Reduce your watering days to once or twice a week. To test if your lawn needs water, step on the grass. If it springs back up, it doesn't need water.
• Irrigate at dawn or dusk to reduce evaporation.
• Switch our your lawn for drought-tolerant plants. Yuba City keeps a garden of drought-tolerant plants at Sam Brannan Park.
• Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios.
To assist residents in their conservation efforts, the Yuba City City Council approved setting aside $15,000 for a water rebate program that would partially refund the cost of installing high-efficiency toilets, commercial spray nozzles and smart irrigation timers.
The rebate program is a part of the city's new Every Drop Counts program. There will be up to $100 in rebates for installing high efficiency toilets, a 50 percent or $75 rebate, whichever is less, for installing smart irrigation timers and a $50 rebate for commercial spray nozzles.
CONTACT reporter Andrew Creasey at749-4780 and on Twitter @AD_Creasey.