WatchSonoma Watch

Windsor looks at options to ensure town has enough water


Windsor’s water situation can be viewed like the classic choice of the half-empty, or half-full glass.

On the one hand, all of its water supply is committed to current users and planned development over the next eight years or so.

In fact, “it’s slightly in the negative,” according to Craig Scott, Windsor’s principal civil engineer, meaning that at least on paper, Windsor can’t quite supply water to all 1,733 future homes in its development pipeline.

But on the other hand, a new well site, conservation and increasing use of recycled wastewater is expected to enable Windsor to meet its commitments.

That was the upshot last week of a water supply update presented to the Town Council.

Windsor, like other North Coast communities, has gotten a reprieve the last couple years as a result of cooler summers and a cool economy.

But that could change.

“If we get a couple hot summers in a row, or development takes off, we need to be prepared,” said Mayor Steve Allen.

To that end, Windsor is working on a number of options. They include new wells, and even the possibility of “groundwater banking” in which it would siphon Russian River water during high winter flows and store it in the ground for later use.

Windsor gets most of its water from its Russian River well field under rights granted to the Sonoma County Water Agency, which also supplies Santa Rosa and other North Bay communities.

But the water agency has been required to reduce diversions from the river to help protect fish migration. And it also decided in 2009 to drop a long-term plan to pump more water from the river, forcing cities to reconsider their growth abilities.

Water use by Sonoma County homes and businesses remains 20 percent below what it was two years ago as a result of continued conservation, the cooler weather and weak economy.

But the mostly voluntary water rationing programs that were in effect in recent years could easily return.

“We could face a dry hot summer next summer and get an urgency order like we did in ‘08 — with a 25 percent cutback — and we would be right up against our supply,” said Dave Richardson of RMC Water and Environment, a consultant for Windsor.

8 Responses to “Windsor looks at options to ensure town has enough water”

  1. Bear says:

    If you really want to drive yourself crazy, look at the EIR for all the contracted obligations of the SCWA to all communities.

    That discussion of an increase in Russian River diversions was a serious issue a few years back. If the powers-that-be have given up on it, then a squeeze is unavoidable.

  2. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Contrived/engineered shortages are part of Agenda 21. There is enough water, there is enough currency, there is enough land, there could be enough food and natural resources. Oh, and man’s activities aren’t warming the Earth.
    UN Agenda 21 is evil, and your local government has aligned itself with it.

  3. John Hudson says:

    Thank-you Kay for your informative post. Undoubtedly the near ban on lawns is intended to create more water for developers with the cash coming from the general public. (As far as I know there is no impact fee to fund this program.) All the pious mouthings from the City of Santa Rosa about conserving water are actually intended to result in even more demands being placed on the water supply.

  4. GAJ says:

    Kay, your are exactly right.

    We had the inspector for that program come out and look at our house and our rental but he never mentioned that your baseline would be lowered.

    We contracted with a landscaper I’ve known for decades and he told me they’d lower my baseline so even though we ripped out the grass at both houses, put in drip instead of sprinklers and went with drought tolerant plants we did not sign the Cash for Grass contract that would have netted us a couple of thousand bucks in the short term but likely cost us much much more in the long term.

  5. Kay Tokerud says:

    Did you know that when you participate in the ‘Cash for Grass’ program in Santa Rosa they reduce your water usage baseline for your property permanently? That means that if a future property owner wants to go back to a more water intensive usage, such as vegetable gardening or flowering plants that they will be penalized for doing so by being charged higher rates. After learning this from watching a City Council meeting, I would want to know what a property’s baseline is before buying a house. Especially now, when urban gardening is being promoted, they are setting people up for a shock on their water bills if they have switched to water efficient landscaping. It might be smarter to not get into the program even if you switch to drought resistant plants. Then they won’t be alerted to it and lower your baseline.

  6. Frank says:

    but in the meantime will continue to bring down dams
    give water rights to a select few
    maybe the cosatel commission should look into this and remove the residents
    all in the name of a frog or a fish most that have been transplants

  7. Hot and Thirsty in Windsor says:

    Fish can’t vote. Fish belong in fish bowls. People vote and need water for their swimming pools, lawns and washing their cars. Keep the tap on and damn the fish!

  8. John Hudson says:

    The first step for any town that is insecure about its water supply is to stop building houses. If a town is insecure about its water supply and is still approving houses you know that the local government is more concerned about the welfare of developers than the people who live there.