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SSJID faces 2nd driest year ever

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POSTED February 9, 2009 4:18 a.m.
Bolinas – a rustic oceanside Marin County enclave – is the poster town for the looming California water crisis.
Households are being limited to 150 gallons of water a day as the town is now drawing on two emergency reservoirs including one that is almost empty. Any household that violates that limit three times – based on monthly readings - will have their water connection shut off.
To put that in perspective, it would be similar to Manteca requiring all of its households to slash average water use by almost 30 percent. The average Manteca household uses 215 gallons a day.
The South San Joaquin Irrigation District board on Tuesday is expected to notify the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy that water deliveries from the South County Surface Water Treatment Plant may be slashed by 10 percent in the coming months. It underscores the bad news in the Sierra where snow pack is seriously lagging as California enters its third drought year.
The SSJID watershed on the Stanislaus River is heading toward the second driest year on record. The record was 1923-24 when 17.1 inches of snow fell triggering the worst drought in Manteca history when the last water delivery to area farms was made in June. The irrigation season normally runs through the middle of October. The second driest year on record was 1977-78 when 19 inches of snow fell. The average snowfall in the portion of the Stanislaus River basin that impacts SSJID is 50 inches.
The snow pack – which is essentially the state’s biggest reservoir for water – is at 27 percent of normal on the watershed supplying SSJID.
The current price for water on the open market is $250 per acre foot. That is expected to triple to $750 barring extremely heavy snow fall for the balance of February as well as through March.
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