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Water outlook more positive for San Ramon

Service providers haven't declared drought, but urge conservation

With drought concerns at the forefront statewide after the governor's emergency proclamation last week, current water availability doesn't appear as dire locally as in other parts of California, according to San Ramon water-service providers.

"Our supply is in fair condition," said Abby Figueroa, public information representative for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. "Despite 2013 being the driest year on record, we started this winter with good storage levels in our reservoirs thanks to heavy rains at the end of 2012."

EBMUD -- which provides water to about 1.3 million residents in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including parts of San Ramon -- has not declared a drought for its service area, but agency officials continue to monitor the fluctuating situation, Figueroa said.

A wait-and-see attitude is also being applied within the Dublin San Ramon Services District, the water-service provider for the Dougherty Valley.

"We're concerned about the forecast. We're looking at it hard. We're probably not going to do anything mandatory, at least not initially," said DSRSD general manager Bert Michalczyk. "We'll make the decision once we have a clearer picture at the end of the traditional wet season."

The outlook remains somewhat positive at this point for the DSRSD, according to Michalczyk.

"We're not at a critical situation like many other water districts are around the state. We have a lot of water in storage, both locally and remotely," he added. "But that's not to say that we shouldn't be trying to save every drop of water we can; you don't know how long this (weather) is gonna go on."

Conservation, which water officials preach year-round regardless of weather, is even more of a focus during dry spells.

"A drop of water saved in the wintertime helps keep that water in storage in the summertime," Michalczyk said.

Gov. Jerry Brown last Friday urged all Californians to reduce their water usage by as much as 20 percent, and San Ramon residents should consider taking part, according to water agency reps.

Among its top conservation tips, EBMUD suggests ratepayers find and repair water leaks at their home, reduce irrigation and consider a switch to more sustainable outdoor landscaping, Figueroa said.

That district has seen an uptick in water demand so far this winter, likely due to recent unseasonably warm and dry weather, she added.

"Of course, there's been barely any rainfall in the past three months, so as winter has progressed our reservoir levels are being drawn down," Figueroa said. "However, winter is only half over and a couple good storms this spring could bring our reservoir levels back to average."

Michalczyk shared similar sentiments, saying the wet season could "turn around on a dime."

"I continue to watch the winter skies," he added. "And I keep Googling looking for a good rain dance out there, but I haven't found one yet."

A series of local public meetings are set to address water-supply issues.

The EBMUD Board of Directors is scheduled to receive regular updates on the local water supply at board meetings, which take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month in Oakland. Agency staff is expected to present its final water-supply forecast of the year on April 22.

The DSRSD Board of Directors will consider a response to Brown's proclamation at its Feb. 4 meeting, 6 p.m. at 7051 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin.

The Board of Directors of the Zone 7 Water Agency -- which sells water to the DSRSD -- is holding a special meeting to discuss drought implications on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at 100 N. Canyons Pkwy. in Livermore. The directors are set to talk about current water conditions and strategies for handling severely limited water imports.

The following night, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird is scheduled to present at a public workshop in Dublin on the draft California Water Action Plan -- a 20-page document developed by three state agencies to guide short-term state actions related to California's water resources.

The event is set to begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 inside Dublin City Council Chambers, 100 Civic Plaza.

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