As discussed in the introduction, WCWD serves a severely disadvantaged community in Nevada County with aging infrastructure which is, in some cases, functionally obsolete. Due to the limited resources of the District, very little planning has been accomplished to prepare the district for water conservation and a potential drought.
The District will complete an Integrated Water Shortage Contingency and Conservation Plan. Components will include:
- Preparation of a water shortage action plan with prioritized actions and clear implementation strategies;
- Integrating water shortage preparedness with capital improvement planning;
- Enhancing customer conservation options and behaviors; and
- Providing technical support to expand the District’s institutional capacity.
The CIP Needs Assessment will examine the multi-year, higher-cost projects for water supply management. The CIP Needs Assessment will build off information gained from the Water Shortage Contingency Plan to identify priorities for managing water scarcity due to climate- or infrastructure-induced shortages. This project would implement long-term drought preparedness and water conservation programs in rural areas not subject to DWR Urban Water Management Plan regulations. The project would also develop community outreach programs such as Plumbing Fixture retrofits. An organizational audit would be conducted to determine internal structures that need to be improved for long-term efficiency of the District’s programs.
Current Status (September 2015)
Preparation of a water shortage action plan
With the emergence of the state-wide drought during the implementation phase of the project, the team has focused energy and activity on assisting the WCWD Board with responding to the voluntary drought declaration of January 2014 (requesting a 20% water saving target) followed by the mandatory drought declaration of April 2015 (mandating a 25% water use reduction or implementation of strict policies regarding water use).
With no meters installed the District determined that the ability to monitor compliance was so low that a simple prohibition on excessive water use (by limiting irrigation to two days a week) and monitoring the overall volumes of water treated at the plant were the only methods available to determine water use response to the drought. Further, absent the data that would become available with the installation of meters, the District does not have the information to determine if water use is affected by leaks both within the distribution system and on the customer side of the meter.
As a result, the District has focused its efforts in 2014 and 2015 on increasing the efficiency of the water treatment plant and its ancillary facilities. Further, the District engaged in discussions with NID to clarify the impacts of drought on the main water source (Canyon Creek) and to determine the various protocols for water management that should be established between NID and the District. Finally, the basic structure of a Drought Response Plan was developed and reviewed by the Board with the determination that the draft documents would be made available to the Board at their Nov 2015 meeting.
With the installation of water meters (Project # 12) in June and July 2015, the WCWD for the first time has the ability to monitor use by customer. Use of meters for water management during drought or low flow conditions was the primary motivation and justification for the installation of meters.
Integrating water shortage preparedness with capital improvement planning
The initial CIP system assessment has been completed by the OM and members of the project team. The next step in the process will be the formulation of a specific set of system and operational components needed to ensure drought resiliency and system resiliency into the future. The CIP will be completed by the end of 2016, to allow for maximum input from ongoing meter readings and leak repair efforts, ongoing conversations with NID as to the projected minimum flows in Canyon Creek under a variety of drought scenarios, and finalization of all improvements to the system (with the possible exception of the Maybert Road improvements).
Enhancing customer conservation options and behaviors
Experience has shown that while a small and concerned segment of the customers are willing to attend meetings, the majority of customers are unable or unwilling to attend meetings that have to do with water conservation and system management. As a result, the team and Board are reevaluating the strategy for local citizen engagement. Installation of the water meters (Project #12) occasioned a considerable amount of communication between local residents and members of the project team.
Providing technical support to expand the District’s institutional capacity