Sonoma declares Stage 1 water shortage

Posted on June 8, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Faced with drought conditions and with no relief in sight, the City of Sonoma declared Monday a Stage 1 Water Shortage, which seeks voluntary conservation from all customers.

The City Council unanimously voted to enact the initial phase of the City’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan to ensure continued supply to its 11,725 daily users. Effective immediately, all Sonoma residents, businesses, schools, and City facilities and parks are urged to cut their indoor and outdoor water use by at least 15%.

“It is important that we all do our part and reduce our daily water use,” said Councilmember Madolyn Agrimonti. “We’ve had two dry years in a row, and we need to protect our water supply. Let’s make sure we do what we can to use less water outdoors and conserve where possible.”

Sonoma County is experiencing severe drought conditions, predicted through 2021. On April 5, Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a drought emergency in the Russian River watershed, which spans Sonoma and Mendocino counties. That came two weeks after the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a warning to water utilities, including the City, and agricultural water customers to prepare for drought impacts statewide.

“I know from experience that the people of Sonoma strongly support each other during emergencies,” said Public Works Director Colleen Ferguson. “I witnessed this firsthand during the 2017 fires, 2019 power shutoffs and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now we’re in a water emergency – time to fix leaks and eliminate water waste to make sure there is enough water for essential needs through summer and fall.”

A Stage 1 Water Shortage declaration requests that all water customers take the following actions:

  • Apply irrigation water only during the evening and early morning hours (8:00 PM – 7:00 AM) to reduce evaporation losses.
  • Inspect all irrigation systems, repair leaks, and adjust spray heads to provide optimum coverage and eliminate avoidable over-spray.
  • For irrigation valves controlling water applied to lawns, vary the minutes of run—time consistent with fluctuations in weather.
  • Reduce minutes of run-time for each irrigation cycle if water begins to run off to gutters and ditches before the irrigation cycle is completed.
  • Become informed about and adhere to the City’s Water Waste Prohibitions – see Sonoma Municipal Code Section 13.10.060 for details.
  • Utilize water conservation rebate and other incentive programs to replace high water-use plumbing fixtures and appliances with water-efficient models.
  • Utilize City information on using water efficiently, reading water meters, repairing ordinary leaks, and applying water efficiently to landscaping.

Conservation is already underway in City parks and facilities. The City has reduced water use by converting areas of turf in City parks, placing rain sensors on irrigation controllers, installing waterless urinals at Plaza and Depot Park restrooms, washing City vehicles less this summer and promptly responding to water leaks.

Water Conservation Coordinator Mike Brett encourages residents to save water by using commonsense water-conserving practices such as taking shorter showers, using dishwashers and washing machines only when full, and even turning off the water while you brush your teeth.

“Every drop truly counts and every effort to save water is important,” Brett said.

To meet the requested reduction, Brett advises that reducing irrigation and installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances are two of the most effective actions residents can take.

“We have been here before,” said Brett, who worked for the City during the 2014 drought. “I know our community is up to the challenge to save water with us.”

More information and updates can be found at

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