Friday Flashback: State Water Board workshop on urban conservation efforts, part 3: Urban water suppliers discuss allocation-based rate structures, rationing, and other drought management actions

From the archives of Maven’s Notebook:

Original publish date: July 2, 2014

All this rain is great, and we sure hope it continues, but there are those that say we’re still likely to end up with another dry year.  Climate change could mean a lot more of these dry years, so urban conservation efforts will need to continue.  This State Water Board workshop featured a detailed discussion of how one city is implementing strict rationing, and an explanation of allocation-based rate structures.

At the June 17 meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board, board members heard an informational update on the conservation actions that urban water suppliers have taken in response to the drought.  In this third and final panel, Toby Goddard from the Santa Cruz Water Department discussed how they are implementing rationing in the community, Paul Jones with Eastern Municipal Water District discussed allocation-based rate structures and their effect on conservation, John Woodling from the Sacramento Regional Water Authority discussed how Sacramento water agencies are meeting the challenges of this year and preparing for a dry year next year, and Joe Grindstaff with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency discussed the financial and other impacts of the drought on his service area.

You have all been invited because you are different examples of agencies leading in some cases due to challenging circumstances, in other cases out of the goodness of your heart, and in other cases, just by being farsighted managers, so I appreciate you coming to paint a picture for us of what can be done,” said Chair Felicia Marcus.

Toby Goddard, Santa Cruz Water Department

Our situation with drought is actually very difficult,” began Toby Goddard. “We serve a population of 94,000 people through 25,000 accounts; we’re a medium size retail water utility. We’re organized as a water department of the City of Santa Cruz and therefore our governing board is the city council.”

061714_10_goddard-1_Page_03Santa Cruz is 96% dependent on surface water. “We get our water entirely from rain that falls on the ocean side of the Santa Cruz Mountains,” he said. “Those same mountains that generate rain in the winter also physically and geographically isolate us from the rest of the state and therein lies our particular problem. We do have one small coastal groundwater basin, but by and large we are almost entirely local surface water supply and because of that, we’re vulnerable to drought. There is nothing imported and nothing transferred even between adjacent water districts, so we’re really kind of on our own.”

Average production across the year is about 9 to 10 million gallons a day, he said. “Right now, we’re at about 97 GPCD, and my prediction is that we’ll come in at the end of this year at about 82 GPCD.”

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