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Drought information and updates

Placer County currently is in the midst of an extreme drought as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Preliminary data shows that 2013 was the driest year in California since 1878, and 2012 also was a dry year. Water levels at Folsom Lake and other North California reservoirs are perilously low.

To put the drought behind us, we will need significant amounts of rainfall over an extended period and a concerted effort by everyone to reduce water use as much as possible.

The Placer County Office of Emergency Services will update this page as needed and is providing links to other websites that will help keep the public informed and aware of available resources.

Water agencies have lots of information to help residents looking for water-conservation ideas and resources. 

  • Save Our Water (http://www.saveourh2o.org/) is a statewide program created by the State Department of Water Resources and Association of California Water Agencies.

The Office of Emergency Services is working closely with local water agencies, county departments, fire agencies and others to help coordinate responses to the drought. It also is cooperating with CAL FIRE and other agencies to remind residents how vital it is to be prepared for winter wildfires caused by the extremely dry conditions. CAL FIRE has responded to a significant number of wildfires during January this year.

Other county offices and departments also are actively involved in providing drought-related assistance. The Agricultural Commissioner's Office, for example, is working closely with individual growers and water agencies on issues that affect Placer County’s agricultural economy. It is coordinating with the Placer County Farm Advisor and Resource Conservation District on a plan to provide emergency water supplies to livestock if needed.

Updated information on the drought’s impacts and county actions is available in a Feb. 4 staff report to the Board of Supervisors.  Click this link: Board Report

Water Use Restrictions

A good way to monitor the drought declarations being passed by the region’s water agencies is to go online to visit http://bewatersmart.info/be-water-smart-program/. Be Water Smart is sponsored by the Regional Water Authority Water Efficiency Program and 19 water providers in Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado and Yolo counties.

Water agencies are advising customers about water-use restrictions directly, through the media and through their websites. Below are links to key water agencies that serve Placer County:

Assistance for local farmers and ranchers

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture included Placer County in a recent drought-related disaster declaration. The declaration makes emergency farm loans available for actual losses as a direct result of the drought up to a maximum of $500,000. The deadline for applying is Sept. 15, 2014. Farmers and ranchers who conduct family-sized operations are eligible to apply. 
    • To apply, contact
      Elk Grove Farm Service Agency Office
      9701 Dino Drive, Suite 170
      Elk Grove, CA 95624
      Phone: 916-714-1104, extension 114.
      More information is available on the USDA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
  • On Feb. 4, USDA announced it will make $20 million available for agricultural water conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of drought. Interested landowners and managers have until March 3, 2014 to apply for available funds. For more information, go to: USDA
  • Placer County is covered by a U.S. Small Business Administration drought declaration that will make Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to small non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations of any size. Small businesses include those such as truckers and suppliers of agricultural equipment or services that deal directly with growers. The deadline to apply is Sept. 15, 2014.
    To apply, contact SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. For more information: USSBA Economic Injury

Information on the drought and resources for farmers, ranchers and farm workers is available on the California Department of Food and Agriculture website at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/drought/.

Be Prepared for Wildfires because fire season is already here

CAL FIRE is urging homeowners to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around their homes and to take other precautions because the extremely dry conditions have led to a significant increase in wildfires this winter. In January, Placer County experienced conditions not normally seen until August. CAL FIRE has responded by hiring additional seasonal firefighters, and launching its public outreach efforts earlier than normal this year.

CAL FIRE is urging residents to avoid using powered equipment outdoors during the heat of the day when conditions are dry and windy, and especially on Red Flag Warning days. Clearance work should be done in the early morning, when temperatures are down and humidity is up.

CAL FIRE recommends:

  • Maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around all structures
  • Clearing all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters
  • Trimming branches six feet from the ground
  • Landscaping with fire-resistant and drought-tolerant plants that require little water
  • Removing branches from areas near roofs and within 10 feet of chimneys
  • Keeping wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from homes

More information on defensible space and other fire-season preparations is available online at: www.ReadyForWildfire.org.

A Jan. 29, 2014 CAL FIRE fire risk update is available by clicking this link: CAL FIRE 1-29-14

In response to the fire threat, agencies have suspended outdoor burning of residential landscape debris in many areas. Homeowners should always check with local CAL FIRE stations or fire departments before burning outdoors.

There are several alternative ways to dispose of trimmed branches and yard clippings, including chipping or taking wastes to green waste facilities. Residents can check with local fire safe councils for alternative landscape debris disposal programs.

For information about the Placer County Chipper Program, visit Placer County Air Pollution Control District at  http://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/air. The program is managed by the Placer County Resource Conservation District.

Tips on being water smart

Outside

  • Use a shutoff nozzle instead of letting the hose run
  • Avoid water-wasting run-off - don't water sidewalks, driveways or gutters
  • Maintain your irrigation system - frequently check for leaks, clogs or misdirected sprinklers and emitters
  • Water outdoors between midnight and 10 a.m. to avoid the peak energy hours and minimize evaporation. Avoid peak water use hours of 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
  • Water with the weather. Turn off your sprinklers and irrigation system during the rainy season or install a rain sensor to automatically shut off your sprinklers when it's raining
  • Group plants with similar water, soil and sun exposure needs
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and water-stealing weeds
  • Reduce lawn size and incorporate water efficient plants into your landscape

Inside

  • Install a low-flow showerhead (save up to 800 gallons a month)
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth (save up to 10 gallons a day)
  • Install ultra-low flush toilets (save 10 to 40 gallons a day)
  • Run only full loads of laundry and dishes (save up to 800 gallons a month)
  • Use a high-efficiency washing machine (save more than 16 gallons a load)
  • Repair a leaky faucet (save up to 429 gallons a month)
  • Install a low-flow faucet aerator (save more than 140 gallons a month)
  • Fix toilet leaks (save up to 500 gallons of water a day)

Many local water providers offer free services, programs and products to help you use water wisely.

- Tips courtesy of the Regional Water Authority

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