While Yuba City residents are looking at the likelihood of mandatory water restrictions for the rest of this year, Marysville citizens aren't facing the same water challenges.

In Yuba City, residents are limited to watering their lawns no more than twice a week. There is a possibility the city's water demand may ultimately exceed its supply, officials have said.

But water conservation is mostly voluntary, at least for now, in Marysville, though there are Cal Water rules establishing unauthorized uses of water. They range from using water resulting in street runoff to refilling swimming pools to washing vehicles without a shutoff nozzle.

Still, there haven't been any calls by the Marysville City Council to cut back. And, while there are a few dry, browning lawns here and there at the homes of conservation-minded homeowners, sprinklers are starting to be turned on.

Well, maybe not turned on for as long.

Lee Seidel, California Water service manager for Marysville, notes Marysville residents have indeed been reducing their water usage over the past decade. He said water demand has dropped 33 percent from 2004 to 2013 and 13 percent from 2013 to 2014.

But as Yuba City residents look across the Feather River at their neighbors, they might wonder what is going on as they calculate the days they are allowed to water.

The difference is the source of water.

Yuba City's mostly comes from the Feather River.

Marysville's all comes from deep wells within the North Yuba Sub-Basin of the Sacramento Valley Groundwater Basin. That water comes primarily from the Sierra snowpack and takes years to find its way to Marysville, water officials said.

"While the aquifer we draw from can be susceptible to drought conditions, it has historically been very resilient," Seidel said. "It is not showing any signs of undue stress at this time."

Yuba City's water supply from the Feather River can be curtailed by the state based on availability while Cal Water monitors levels at each of its nine wells to gauge the supply. And so far, there hasn't been a need for severe mandatory restrictions.

Q&A: Marysville’s Water Supply

Justin Skarb, Cal Water's community affairs and government relations manager; Ken Jenkins, Cal Water conservation manager; and Lee Seidel, service manager for Marysville, answered other questions posed by the Appeal-Democrat related to Marysville's water supply.

Do agricultural operations around the city draw on the same source of water? Is there a chance those farming interests, if the drought continues, would draw water from the same source that provides water to the city? "The aquifer Cal Water draws from in Marysville is the same aquifer that farming operations north of the city derive their supply from. Over-pumping by any entity, agricultural or otherwise, could alter the quantity and quality of the water that supplies our customers in Marysville."

Is there enough of a supply for both or is there a possibility that Marysville residents and businesses would be required to cut back? "Fortunately, during previous droughts, there has not been a noticeable degradation in the quantity or quality in Marysville. However, each drought is unique in its duration and it is conceivable that a prolonged drought could create a shortage of water that would require all users to more drastically alter the consumption patterns."

Does the fact Marysville has a good supply of water mean that the state's call for voluntary restrictions doesn't apply to city residents? There are different components to the state's call for conservation, including the implementation of water conservation programs, reducing water use 20 percent statewide by 2020 and that utilities reduce water demand, the Cal Water officials noted.

"The law does not have any carve-outs for water utilities drawing from basins with stable supplies."

Why hasn't there been more publicity asking city residents to cut back? "Cal Water's conservation programs combine a robust customer education component with a variety of tools customers can take advantage of, at no additional cost, to help them use water wisely, including conservation kits with high-efficiency plumbing fixtures."

What is Cal Water doing to comply with new state regulations adopted this month related to watering outdoor landscapes, using hoses to wash vehicles and running water features? "Cal Water's Drought Team is currently drafting revisions that will bring it in line with the new regulations ..." "Because our conservation efforts are ongoing, we do not have to do as much to ramp up our programs and outreach during droughts."

Does the city's good supply of water mean any conservation measures taken by city residents are largely symbolic? "Water conservation efforts should never be considered symbolic regardless of the state of our aquifer. A prolonged drought could change the water landscape for everyone and using water wisely now helps to reduce the likelihood that more draconian measures are needed down the road."

State law requires that all California customers be converted to metered service by 2025. How is that conversion going in Marysville? "About three-quarters of our customers in Marysville already have metered service connections. About 920 homes are still unmetered, but they are being systematically converted to metered connections. Currently, we are working with individual customers who contact us and express a desire to be converted to a metered service."

If more restrictions were to be put in place, would it be easier to monitor individual usage if the entire city was on meters? "The prohibited uses of water under both our rules and the (state's) regulations are aimed at preventing various wasteful uses of water, such as washing down a driveway with a hose or running a sprinkler system when it is raining. Those restrictions can be enforced regardless of whether a customer has metered service connections or not."

CONTACT Eric Vodden at 749-4769.

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