Mammoth Community Water District Comments on Dry Winter Conditions (Press Release)
The well-below normal snowpack levels reported by the first snow surveys of 2014 were of no surprise to anyone that spends time enjoying winter recreation or anyone at Mammoth Community Water District managing water deliveries in our town. The water presently stored in this year’s snowpack for our region is only 21 percent of normal for this time of year, similar to readings in 2013 which ended up being the driest on record.
Water District staff is actively tracking winter precipitation to assess water supplies for the coming year. “Our customers are already at Level 1 restrictions and we are cautiously optimistic that we will have adequate supplies and receive more precipitation before summer,” said Karl Schnadt, MCWD Operations Superintendent. Water District staff and the Board of Directors are discussing water supply projections and will be considering additional water restrictions if dry winter conditions continue. Schnadt’s cautious optimism is based on the District’s ability to utilize surface water, groundwater, and reclaimed water resources for its water deliveries, and the potential for some significant winter storms to materialize in our region.
Last year, the District relied heavily on groundwater supplies during the summer months after surface water supplies diminished. Water levels in the District’s wells have declined as a result and will continue to decline without significant recharge from snow melt. However, Schnadt emphasizes that judicious use of water for landscaping can have a significant impact on minimizing water table drawdown and maintaining a reliable water supply for the entire community. During the growing season, landscape irrigation triples water demand in town, increasing daily water consumption by about 2 million gallons. “Landscape irrigation is used effectively by some of our customers, but it is not uncommon to see customers use over 300 percent of what is necessary to keep plants healthy,” remarked Betty Hylton, MCWD GIS Specialist, “If everyone irrigated within the guidelines, it would greatly improve our water reliability.”
As the winter progresses, Water District staff are requesting that customers use water efficiently to conserve available supplies. Officials said that the Water District’s ability to draw from multiple water resources provides reliability for customers; however, all of these supplies still rely on storms building up our Sierra reservoir, the winter snowpack. Local media outlets and the Mammoth Community Water District website (www.mcwd.dst.ca.us) will be used to communicate with the public about any changes to water usage restrictions if they become necessary.