MENDOCINO Co., 8/13/21 — Fort Bragg is worried the community may not have enough water to last through the rest of the year. Ukiah has been investing in its water resources for years and now has some to spare.
Even though all of Mendocino County is facing an extreme drought, water resources for each part of the county vary widely. That’s led to the county’s four municipalities — Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Willits and Point Arena — working on mutual aid agreements that will make it easier to transport water from one part of the county to another.
Those agreements would initially be focused on using tanker trucks to get the water from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, said Josh Metz, who has been contracted to coordinate Mendocino’s drought response, told the Mendocino Countywide Drought Task Force on Thursday.
Those mutual aid agreements are in draft form right now and once those are finalized, Metz said the focus will shift to sourcing water trucks, likely by the end of the month if not sooner. The initial goal is to send 10 truckloads that are 6,000 gallons of water apiece (60,000 to 70,000 gallons total) to the Summers Lane Reservoir in Fort Bragg every day. After being treated by the city’s treatment plant, Metz said that water would be offered to local water haulers, albeit at a slightly higher price. It’s going to cost 6 cents per gallon instead of 3 cents.
The drought task force is working on finding resources to help businesses that need help to weather the drought.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) disbursed $25 million of $200 million in drought funding for small communities. While none of the initial funds went to Mendocino County, a simultaneous change in guidelines for the funding could revive efforts to use the Skunk Train to transport water between Willits and Fort Bragg. The new guidelines list hauling water by rail as a project eligible for funds.
“One of the big complications with the idea of using the Skunk Train to haul water was how it was going to be paid for,” Metz said. “ … Issues of sourcing that water remain.”
Any movement with that project would be at least a month out, but Metz said it would be beneficial in reducing the cost of hauling the water and reducing trucks on the highway. A couple people at the meeting expressed concerns with the idea of using the Skunk Train to haul water and thought it would be better for individual communities to build up their own water resiliency through projects like investing in desalination infrastructure in Fort Bragg.
One resident of the Willits Valley said people were already worried there about Willits drafting from the aquifer they depend on and that concern was only exacerbated with the news of the Skunk Train proposal. “It makes me very nervous when I’m in a small valley like Little Lake,” he said, “and my only source of water is my well.”
The Ukiah Valley Basin Sustainable Groundwater Management Agency (UVBGSA) monitors the water levels for the basin and District 1 Supervisor Glenn McGourty said it seems to be in pretty good balance so far. That water would only be tapped in emergency situations and wouldn’t be a sustainable long-term option, he said.
The next meeting of the drought ad hoc committee is set for 4 p.m. Sept. 9.
Good article on the water shortage in Fort Bragg. I sat on the FB Planning Commision in the late 70s and FB had been working on a water plan for a number of years then. Plans are only as good as the implementation. None occured after that report. How many more plans will there be before folks get it that water is the lifeblood of all living things but also businesses and communitites. When resources dry up (pun intended) water, fish, timber, soil or petroleum communities can not survive for very long. We have seen the timber and fishing resources dwindle to the point below sustainability. Now with the drought (caused by … you name it) in full swing the water that FB relies on is dwindling and dwindling to the point that community sustainability is in question.
What is the answer? Well I do know that we do have a huge ocean of water reserve (another pun intended) that is poison to humans until the salt is removed. De-salination works! It is just a matter of the will of the people to actually be willing to pay for it. With the smothering anti tax crowd out there it is a wonder that this kind of solution was approved. Now this small plant is not the total solution. We must conserve as well. I have been part of a community for about 10 years and we have reduced the amount of water our homes us from what the historical standard of about 350 gallons per day is to about 155 gpd. These savings did come from the fact that all of the homes were built with water saving devices (please forgive DJT as he was only scoring political points) such as low flush toilets, low flow shower heads and automatic shutoffs in faucets…while you may have to flush twice every once in a while, what really does that matter.
So, take the savings of about 200gpd in my community and multiply it by 2,000 homes (more than that existing in the FB community) and that is 400,000gpd. That is a long way towards the simple 10% of 700,000gpd that the FB City Council is asking you to reduce. It is not cheap for each home owner but in the big picture we can pay for it out of community funds (raise taxes) or pay for it individually as part of our civic duty. Either way there is no free lunch and if you want to use water you must pay the piper.
All I know is that doing very little over the last 50 years (a half century) has led us to a point that is the tipping of the community. Oh by the way what happened to the water right that Georgia Pacific had?
crisis management….we’ve been in drought status at least 5 years, now discussion over desal plant? plan aheaD…what a concept!
I would agree desal is certainly in the future the rain and fish aren’t coming anymore 🙁