Aug. 11 meeting will bring water shortage stages to the forefront
At a city council meeting on Aug. 11, Cloverdale officials will once again be weighing whether or not to implement stricter water use guidelines for residents and businesses alike. Right now, Cloverdale has a mandatory 25% water reduction — on Wednesday, the council is slated to discuss whether it wants to declare a Stage 4 or a Stage 5 water shortage emergency and increase the water reduction target to 40%.
Additionally, the council is slated to receive a presentation about the BAYren Water Upgrades $ave Program, which allows people who install water efficient upgrades in their home using a pay-by-utility-bill method and will be receiving a report on the Sonoma County Civil Grand Jury’s 2021 report. The council meeting is being held in-person and over Zoom and begins at 6 p.m. To view the full agenda, go here.
In the second of two public hearings, Cloverdale council members will be considering issuing an urgency ordinance amending the water supply conservation section of its municipal code, and issuing a resolution declaring a new emergency water conservation stage.
Introducing a six-part water plan
As part of a two-part agenda item addressing water use and the drought, the council is being asked to adopt an urgency ordinance that codifies a water contingency plan that outlines six stages of water shortages — from less than a 10% water shortage all the way up to over 50% — and the response actions associated with them.
Right now, the city’s water conservation ordinance only contains three emergency stages, which doesn’t agree with state law that specifies that six levels of shortages need to be identified. The emergency ordinance seeks to remedy that.
Upping water restrictions
On the heels of the state water board introducing a new level of Russian River water curtailments that impact pre-1914 water rights holders, of which Cloverdale is one, the city is discussing issuing a new drought stage declaration. The curtailment orders are associated with record low water levels at Lake Mendocino.
“Unfortunately, recent storage levels dropped below the target storage threshold to meet the 20,000 acre-foot goal. In response, pursuant to its emergency regulations authorized in earlier this summer, the SWRCB has issued Curtailment Notices to senior water rights holders in the upper Russian River. The curtailment order requires the city to reduce its water use to an allotment of 55 gallons per person per day, which is the amount the order finds necessary to meet minimum health and safety standards,” reads the council agenda item.
Because of this, Cloverdale’s city manager is asking the council to increase Cloverdale’s mandatory water reduction goal from 25% to 40% and to assign the city at either a Stage 4 or Stage 5 water emergency. A Stage 4 emergency limits irrigation to one day a week, establishes rations for all water use categories and increases the city’s water shortage surcharge. A Stage 5 emergency prohibits irrigation, decreases the ration for all water use categories and increases the city’s water shortage surcharge.
The only city in the county thus far that’s adopted a 40% mandatory decrease in water use is Healdsburg, which implemented the 40% reduction requirement on June 7.
Updating city fees
The first public hearing of the evening will be about establishing and updating the city’s schedule of fees and charges for city services.
According to the council’s agenda, changes include water and wastewater rates that were previously approved at the public hearing on June 9, 2021; payment processing fees for permits through OpenGov; payment processing fees for business licenses through HdL; and removal of any fees that were outsourced by contract with North Bay Animal Services.
Civil Grand Jury Report
Every year, Sonoma County’s Civil Grand Jury releases a report that tackles various aspects of county government, districts, cities, citizen complaints and more. The jury serves as an independent judicial body, investigating such issues.
Following the yearly report, jurisdictions are given the opportunity to respond to specific report findings. Specifically, Cloverdale was asked to respond to a report about emergency alerts and communication.
The council will be reviewing and potentially approving Mayor Marta Cruz’s response.