Drought leads to MCWD water use reduction request


Little water in Lake Mary. Photo by Ken Warner (link to larger version on website comments)

The lack of snow on the Sierra and the hot summer temperatures have significantly impacted surface water availability to the Mammoth Lakes community. Typically, the mountain snowpack functions as a reservoir of fresh water during our dry summers; however, this winter’s snowpack left little water to feed the lakes and creeks during the summer and replenishing summer rains have also been absent.

The Mammoth Lakes watershed is experiencing a roughly 1 in 20 year drought condition due to the meager winter.

The Water District uses a combination of surface water, groundwater, and recycled water to meet the water needs of the community. The surface water supply is now exhausted until we receive significant moisture in the form of rain storms or the eventual return of winter precipitation. The combined low Mammoth Creek flows and Lake Mary storage levels prohibit any further significant use of surface water for the remainder of the summer and fall seasons.

Therefore, the Water District is requesting that customers voluntarily start reducing their water use to ensure a reliable water supply for the remainder of the summer. Later this month, the Water District’s Board of Directors will consider implementation of mandatory conservations measures at their August 16th monthly meeting.

Water demand in Mammoth triples when the outdoor watering season commences. This year’s heavy reliance on groundwater increases pressure on the water delivery system to function without interruption. Groundwater supply requires the use of additional pumps to pump aquifers and distribute water throughout town. In addition, groundwater must be treated at higher levels than surface water. Currently the District’s nine production wells and two groundwater treatment plants are running at near capacity due primarily to outdoor water use for irrigation.

Customers can reduce their irrigation demand without impacting their landscape, and help reduce the stress on the community water supply. Techniques include increasing irrigation efficiency, adopting management techniques that reduce the landscape’s water needs, and reducing the number of days or length of time for an irrigation cycle. The District recommends that you observe your sprinklers to check whether they are putting out mist instead of droplets. Misting is typically caused by high water pressure delivered to the sprinkler head. This mist is lost to evaporation and wind displacement rather than watering your plants. You can reduce the water pressure at various locations on your irrigation system based on yourlandscape size.

Pressure reducing valves are available for your irrigation line, sprinkler values and sprinkler heads. In addition, check your sprinkler systems to ensure the heads are functioning properly, are aligned to keep water on the landscape and there are no leaks. Lawns can be more water efficient if the mower blades are raised to allow the grass to shade the soil. Deeper and more infrequent watering increases plant drought tolerance by encouraging roots to expand deeper into the soil. Applied water lost through evaporation can be reduced by applying mulches around plants.

For more lawn management options, attend a Water-Efficient Lawn Care Workshop hosted by the Water District on August 23rd at 11:30-1:00. The Water District is also offering rebates for pressure reducing valves on irrigation systems.

Indoors, the Water District would like customers to reduce their water waste by implementing some simple measures. Check for leaky faucets and toilets. A few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank will indicate whether you have a leaky toilet. Other important steps that will reduce water use include using your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full and shortening the length of showers. Installation of new-high efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and faucet aerators will increase your savings. The Water District is ready to help customers reduce water use by offering rebates for installing high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers. In addition, free showerheads are available at the District office.

For more information on indoor and outdoor water saving incentives call the Water District at 760-934-2596 ext 274 and visit our website, www.mcwd.dst.ca.us

Phone service at the Mammoth Community Water District under repair

The Water District’s phones are currently being repaired. Calls are being forwarded to another number until the repairs are completed. If your call is not forwarded, please try again. We apologize for the inconvenience and expect to resume full phone service before the end of the week.



17 Responses to Drought leads to MCWD water use reduction request

  1. taxifornia August 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    They talk about a drought .. However they continue to build new neighborhoods/parcels in Taxifornia. Seems as if there is always plenty of water for New construction. The cities and counties /state want the property tax base.

    Do we or don’t we have any water.?????
    Welcome to the “Water Ponzi scheme”

    • Trouble August 7, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Taxifornia- I agree, it does seem like a big Ponzi scheme. The water companies make more either way. Either with more water to sell or by higher prices . Bet the price won’t go down the next time we have to chain up.

      • Big AL August 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

        yesuree bob … nothing ever goes down , in respect to prices .. they will always go up though.

  2. Mike August 7, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    It will probably be worse when MCWD loses the court case with DWP.

  3. MJA August 7, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Shouldn’t mandatory conservation measures be in effect for not only the water but the entire planet?


  4. Ken Warner August 7, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Up here, Lake Mary is as low as I’ve seen it since I’ve lived here. Usually, I’d be up to my neck standing where I took this panorama.


    Click/Drag the image around or use the buttons.

  5. sierragrl August 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    For at least a month now, I’ve noticed a change in the taste of MCWD’s water…anybody else notice that? I used to love our water. I’d love to hear from MCWD to see if they’ve changed any practices lately.

    • Big AL August 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

      It’s the algae .. it won’t hurt you .. getting sucked in now that the water is low.

  6. SierraFan August 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Nice job on the photo Ken!! It looks like Lake Mary is soon to be Puddle Mary!. Let’s hope for a solid winter so our lakes come back to normal or better.

  7. Trouble August 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Isn’t i amazing that we can go from a record snow pack to record drought in about 30 seconds. Screw you DWP. MCWD is not to blame here.

  8. Mark August 8, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    What are you people talking about?

    Jerry Brown delcared the drought was over back in March of 2011.

    Was he wrong about that too?

  9. Roy August 8, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    I was fishing the Upper Owens River a few weeks ago and I can’t ever remember the water level being so low in the river..

  10. andrew August 9, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Drought is happening almost everywhere except @ the Crystal Geyser in Olancha, I am wondering they get a pass when DWP receives all the flack, and the pub.

  11. Water Police August 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    A couple years ago, a ranger in Yosemite was giving a tutorial on some of the ancient trees. He pointed to a series of ultra-thin rings on a fallen stump and said, “these thin rings represent over 50 years of drought.”


    • Big AL August 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      That’s the thing WP .. droughts have happened all through time .. Like the ranger said, the evidence is all around such as the thin rings in the tree wood.
      We have been in a period of drought for some time, the weather patterns have changed, and are changing still.

      I have said before, that nature has caused some of the weather and climate changes, changes in vegetation here in the Owens Valley, that is true.
      But, the one variable that I think, is causing a lot of our drought symptoms here, is the lack of water in the valley.

      You look at Mono County for example, the precip. up there with these recent storms has far outweighed anything we have gotten down here in the Owens Valley.
      But ….. there are more bodies of water in that area compared to the Owens Valley.

      Historically, water shed from the storms passing, drained into the valley and into the river, but there were more localized bodies of water around, namely, the Owens Lake. The area where the Bishop gun club is located now, was a big swamp area that stretched up to the Rocking K area. There was a big village located out there by the gun club, evidence of it was found when Caltrans was widening the road. This swamp was remnants of a bigger lake of ancient times that encompassed the whole valley and beyond.

      So now, all of the water is channeled and collected in a wholesale fashion and drained into the LA aqueduct, and sent to LA. Owens Lake was evaporated due to diversion of it’s water sources. I think, that with the loss of localized bodies of water, that it has changed the way storms have the ability to leave precipitation here in the Owens Valley. Instead of the increasing number of dry storms that blow over the valley, we would get more precep. out of them if there was more moisture in the area to begin with.

  12. Gib Corwin August 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    I would like to make a abstract observation. forgive me from veering from the subject. I travel a lot. It used to be more glamorous. Now it’s just working to get home. I am currently in Puerto Vallarta Mexico by way of Mazatlan, La Paz and Los Cabos. My wife and oldest son lived here for awhile a m illion years ago before the narco’s moved into our gated community. Today I took a taxi up to Bucerias for lunch. High rises and condos have sprung up everywhere. Lunch was expensive and mediocre at best. The cab ride up and back and lunch cost me all the cash I had on me. About $100 dollars. The exchange is around 13 to 1. I did not have enough pesos to pay the taxi driver. So we stopped at a huge american style mall with banks and a wallmart. I had a California drivers licsense and three credit cards. The Citi bank that was there was closed. Thats where we bank in California. Three banks refused to make change for a perfect one hundred dollar bill so that I could pay the taxi. The reason being that I did not have my passport with me. I never take my passport out of the safe on the boat after over 40 years of working down here I never want to get stuck here. My point is that Mammoth lakes , Mammoth mountain and the Owens valley offer an amazing value to thee people of Los Angeles. I would not trade you a week of being down here with an hour of being up there. My message to all of you is to loosen up on the development and run the sierra club back to Mill valley. Take charge. It’s about time. Develop, but do it like like Cabo, sort of. Beach family

    • Ken Warner August 16, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      Wait a minute… You just wrote of your displeasure of all the development that has happened in places you used to love to visit.

      And then you suggest doing the same to the Owen’s Valley?????


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