Jennifer Burke, head of Santa Rosa’s Utilities Department, speaking at the recent Drought Town Hall organized by Sonoma Water, gave a thorough description of many water-saving conservation programs available to local citizens. Her goal is to compensate for increased water demands needed for the city’s 5000+ recent and future new units. Other cities are similarly working to encourage more conservation.
Yet what can be done when residents have conserved all they can, when available water supplies no longer satisfy the need, and ‘demand hardening’ sets in? Growth is rampant in many urban areas now, just as water supplies are reaching rock bottom. Sonoma County Water Agency is cutting supplies to the lower river while hoping to move ‘surplus’ water into aquifers for their customers. Summer wastewater irrigation is very limited because drought limits wastewater supply.
Although Recreational Use is one of five authorized designations for Russian River diversions (Decision 1610), no mention of recreation was considered in ‘town hall’ presentations, and no one from the public was allowed to speak, even though summertime lower river flows may soon go down to a dribble. Only three faceless written questions were rapidly answered at Town Hall’s end, although over 300 people ‘attended’.