Ukiah officials are asking residents to greatly reduce their water use this summer even though it?s unclear whether the city is subject to a state water directive seeking a 50 percent cut in Russian River water diversions.
?We want to be prepared,? said Ukiah City Manager Jane Chambers.
State water officials have asked Russian River water users in Mendocino County to reduce water use by 50 percent and those in Sonoma County to reduce water use by 25 percent.
The conservation directive is a condition of allowing reductions in the water flows from Lake Mendocino into the Russian River, a move intended to conserve water in the critically low lake while maintaining adequate flows for endangered fish.
Ukiah authorities doubt the directive currently applies to their city, but that?s unclear and the situation could change.
Ukiah normally uses very little, if any Russian River water, Chambers said. It largely depends on two water wells and hopes to have a third operating in the near future.
Officials admit one of their two functioning wells may be fed by Russian River underflow, but they hope to shut that one down when the new well ? currently under construction ? comes online.
They?re also hoping the new well will produce enough water to allow the city to keep its Russian River-dependent Ranney collector mothballed.
The Ranney collector is comprised of lateral pipes that gather water from underneath the Russian River.
If the city?s new well doesn?t pan out, the Ranney collector most likely would be fired up when the city?s 15,000 residents start seriously irrigating their lawns and gardens this summer.
Ukiah residents use between 1.5 million and 2 million gallons of water a day in the winter and about 7 million gallons a day in the summer, she said.
With so many variables at play and ongoing drought conditions, city officials Wednesday night decided to ask residents to conserve.
They declared a local water emergency that will allow them to institute mandatory conservation measures if voluntary measures fail, she said.
For now, city officials are asking residents to voluntarily conserve water with a goal of reducing water use by 50 percent, Chambers said.
Even if Ukiah is legitimately shielded from the state?s conservation directive, Councilman Benj Thomas said its residents need to conserve.
?We can?t be green and you go across the (city) line and it?s brown,? he said.