The City of Fort Bragg implemented Stage 1 Water Conservation restrictions at the city council meeting Monday night as a third year of drought threatens to ravage Mendocino County.
The city aims to reduce at least five to ten percent of seasonal water demand with the restrictions, which apply to everyone using the city’s water system and people drawing off the Noyo River, Newman Gulch and Waterfall Gulch. Fort Bragg municipal code for water conservation allows the city council to implement mandatory water conservation efforts once a water emergency is declared.
The need for restrictions came later than expected, the city’s Public Works Director John Smith said during the Monday city council meeting, due to late spring rains.
The Noyo River currently flows 4.3 million gallons a day but will lose about 970,000 gallons per week, Smith told The Voice, an indication that tipped the department toward recommending water restrictions.
“Fortunately we had those late rains in the spring which was great, that really held things off for a considerable amount of time, longer than I expected,” Smith said. “The Noyo River is currently at 6 cubic feet per second…but it’s dropping at about 1.5 cubic feet per week. Eventually it flattens out.”
Fort Bragg citizens will be required to limit landscape irrigation to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from midnight to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Any free flowing water systems such as sprinklers, vehicle and equipment washing, ponds, or evaporative coolers must have automatic shut-off devices to conserve water.
Restaurants may only serve water upon request and all commercial lodging establishments must offer patrons the option to forgo daily laundering of towels, sheets and linens. Pools, spas and fountains must be equipped with a recirculation pump and must be leak proof. If a leak is discovered by the city or the owner, it must be repaired within five days of discovery.
City Council Member Lindy Peters lauded the Public Works Department’s work at easing the city into water restrictions.
“In 2015 we went straight to stage 3 and caught everybody off guard, so thank you so much for your diligence this time,” Peters said. “We have been able to adjust our lifestyle to accommodate less water use in the past and I know we’ll do it again.”
Earlier this month, Fort Bragg’s Public Works Analyst Sandy Arellano told the Voice no water conservation restrictions were in place because the Noyo River Flows were looking “positive.” But the Department of Public Works submitted a recommendation to implement water conservation restrictions on July 22 because “current water supply conditions are beginning to show the effects of a third year of drought.”
Neighboring Mendocino has been under a Stage 4 Water Shortage Emergency since late March. All towns except Ukiah and Willits have some water restrictions in place, which can be found here.