Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Anyone paying attention to the season’s paltry rainfall has seen it coming for some time, but recent pronouncements about the state of the region’s water supply make it plain: hard times lie ahead.
Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are both at their lowest levels ever for this time of year — after two consecutive years in which the combined rainfall totals barely measure up to a single average year.
State water regulators have issued letters notifying more than 700 vineyards, domestic suppliers, farmers and other entities with water rights for the Russian River that their diversions may be curtailed.
Dairy farmers in southern Sonoma County already are trucking thousands of gallons a day to their parched lands, and more than a billion gallons of recycled wastewater normally delivered each year to other agricultural users is simply unavailable, owing to low rainfall and diminished production.
And though it’s only the beginning of April, with months still to go before summer even starts, officials say the overall picture suggests mandated conservation measures aren’t so much a matter of if, but when.