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Placer County Water Agency Placer County Water Agency
Supplement to Supplement to
Gold Country Media publications Gold Country Media publications
• Manage your water • Manage your water • Manage your water
supply, reduce use supply, reduce use supply, reduce use
• Is your property • Is your property • Is your property
in fire danger? in fire danger? in fire danger?
• How do I start • How do I start • How do I start
saving water? saving water? saving water?
PCWA’s Hell
Hole Reservoir
2 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
lacer County resi-
dents should be
assured that Placer
County Water Agency
(PCWA) is doing every-
thing in its power to ease
the impacts of the
drought on our cus-
tomers and communi-
ties. Even so, we need
your help.
The drought we’re fac-
ing this year has reached
the point where we all
must reduce our water
use so that we can pre-
serve enough water stor-
age in mountain reser-
voirs to get us through
next year, if it should also
turn out to be dry.
PCWA is anticipating
up to a 40 percent reduc-
tion this year in the water
supplied to us by the
Pacific Gas and Electric
Company. We are making
up some of this shortfall
by pumping maximum
levels of water from the
American River and we
have activated two emer-
gency wells in the Rock-
lin area. Even with this
additional water, we
must reach a demand
reduction of 10-20 per-
We are asking all of our
customers to reduce
water use this year by 10
percent, 20 percent if
possible. Other area
water suppliers are tak-
ing similar measures.
Saving water is not as
hard as it may seem. As a
rule, we’re not using as
much water as we used
to; our fixtures and appli-
ances are more water-
efficient, our landscapes
and gardens use mulch
and drought-tolerant
plants and, most impor-
tantly, water conserva-
tion has become part of
our community dia-
After three dry years,
let’s use our limited water
supply as efficiently as we
can and look forward a
new and wetter 2014/15
precipitation season.
Weather scientists are
predicting a building El
Niño climate pattern in
the southern Pacific
Ocean. In the past, El
Niños have sometimes
brought wet conditions
to the West Coast.
To help you save water
now, we’ve compiled lots
of helpful information
here and on the PCWA
website, I hope
you find it to be helpful.
Folsom Reservoir (seen here on Jan. 4) reached lows in January before late winter and spring rains
brought needed relief.
David A.
Manage your water supply, reduce your use
You may think the worst
thing about your over-
grown property is that it’s
simply an ugly mess. But
did you know that the
same conditions that
make it unattractive also
make ita fire hazard? All it
takes is one spark to ignite
a patch of brush or pile of
dried leaves, and the
resulting damage to your
land – or worse, to your
home – can be devastat-
Take a look at the fol-
lowing list to identify if
there are hazardous con-
ditions on your property.
• Lack of “defensible
space,” which is simply
the area around your
house where the plant
material has been modi-
fied to reduce wildfire
intensity. Contact your
local Fire Safe Council or
CDF for defensible space
• Dead plant material
on the property, including
dead trees and shrubs,
dead branches lying on
the ground or still
attached to plants, yel-
lowed and dried grasses,
leaves and brown needles.
• Height of grasses,
shrubs and flowers
exceeding 18 inches.
• Masses of plants or
brush, referred to as
a“horizontal layer” of veg-
• Too many flammable
shrubs, including man-
zanita, bear clover/
mountain misery, buck
brush, Scotch/Spanish
Broom, juniper, blackber-
ry and incense cedar.
• Trees and plants at
varying heights located
next to each other, re-
ferred to as “ladder fuel.”
Flames will “climb” up the
ladder created by the
varying heights.
• Sloped areas on your
property can have an
influence on fire behav-
ior. The steeper the slope,
the faster the fire will
spread. South- and
southwest-facing slopes
tend to have drier materi-
al. Once you’ve set out to
tackle hazardous vegeta-
tion, carefully evaluate
the risk of doing the work
yourself before you
assume it’s a good idea.
Do you have access to
the appropriate equip-
ment and safety gear? Will
steep or rocky terrain,
equipment operation or
exposure to poison oak
and rattlesnakes compro-
mise your safety? Many
people try to perform the
work themselves to save
money. In the interest of
getting the job done cor-
rectly, safely and in a
timely manner, don’t
skimp on your budget,
even if it means that
spending a little more to
get help from a profes-
sional service company.
Finally, implement an
annual maintenance rou-
tine to keep your property
safe. Every year, revisit the
things that make your
property a fire hazard and
address those that need
attention. Remember,
there’s a bonus in making
your property fire safe –it’s
bound to look better and
be more usable, too!
Contact Scott Serenbetz,
president of Bushwackers, Inc.
Is your property
a fire danger?
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 3
Owner, Scott Serenbetz
Is this fire hazard out YOUR back window?
to clear it!
The concentration of flammable material
in the fuel break before it was cleared six
years ago would burn too hot to go near
and even if a firefighter could get near the
blaze it wouldn’t make a difference, Fire
Chief Mark D’Ambrogi said.
With the trees trimmed up and the brush cut back the
area looks like a park and allows firefighters to set up
an offensive front against a fire.
• Tree Service
• Brush Clearing
• Weed Abatement
• Blackberry &
Poison Oak
• Fire Breaks
Bushwackers Project Overgrown Fire Hazard
(530) 888-7776
Cell (916) 955-7776
Insured CSL #866502
Contact Us For
What It Takes For A
Fire Safe & Fabulous
Looking Home site
4 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
hree years of below-average
rainfall has put the entire
state of California under
some level of drought, ranging
from moderate to exceptional
severity. This is the first time
this has occurred in 15 years.
The latest drought monitor
report released by the National
Climatic Data Center showed
the entire state is under at least
moderate drought conditions,
with 76.6 percent of the total
experiencing extreme drought
and for 24.7 percent of the state,
the level of dryness was termed
During the same period last
year, none of the state was con-
sidered to be under extreme or
exceptional drought condi-
tions, and just 30 percent fell
under the “severe” category.
How To Reduce
Treated Water Use
Outdoor Water Use
• Limit landscape watering to
a maximum of two days per
week during the months of
April, May, June, September,
October and November.
• Limit landscape watering to
a maximum of three days per
week during the months of July
and August.
• Water only between the
hours of 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.
• Reduce irrigation cycles to
limit runoff.
• Repair irrigation leaks
• Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch
around trees and plants to
reduce evaporation.
• Use a bucket and hose with
a shutoff nozzle for vehicle or
equipment washing or go to a
commercial establishment that
uses recycled water.
• Use a recirculation pump in
all decorative water features or
turn them off.
• Cover pools to prevent
• Use a rake or broom instead
of a hose to clean hard surfaces.
• Adhere to landscaping spec-
ifications outlined in the state’s
Model Water Efficient Land-
scape Ordinance for any new
landscaping (contact PCWA for
Indoor Water Use
• Limit showers to five min-
utes or less.
• Wash only full loads of dish-
es and clothes.
• Convert to high-efficiency
fixtures and appliances such as
toilets, showers and faucets,
dishwashers and clothes wash-
• Check plumbing and appli-
ances for leaks and fix leaks
within 48 hours.
• Turn off the faucet when
brushing teeth, washing dishes
by hand, or when shaving.
How To Reduce
Irrigation Water Use
• PCWA customers receiving
one (1) miners’ inch or more of
water have had their delivery
outlets adjusted and water bills
will be adjusted accordingly. If
it is determined that this reduc-
tion is insufficient to achieve
the needed water savings, addi-
tional reductions may occur.
• Customers who receive one-
half (1/2) miners’ inch or less of
water will not have their water
delivery orifice reduced but are
strongly encouraged to reduce
water use by a minimum of 10
percent, with a 20 percent
reduction as a desired goal.
• Customers with untreated
meter service will not have their
water delivery orifice reduced
but are strongly encouraged to
reduce water use by a mini-
mum of 10 percent, with a 20
percent reduction as a desired
• As may be necessary, peri-
odic water outages of canals or
ditches may occur as circum-
stances warrant. Customers
having unique circumstances
should contact PCWA to dis-
cuss alternative means of
achieving target water use
reductions. Irrigation water
customers should always be
prepared with onsite water stor-
• Customers may request vol-
untary water service reduction
or temporary discontinuance.
Any customer who informs
PCWA in writing that they are
willing to limit or forego water
delivery during the drought
emergency will not lose their
priority of service.
Additionally, fees or charges
related to this temporary dis-
continuance or reinstitution of
service will be waived.
For helpful water efficiency
information, visit the Placer
County Water Agency website at or call their customer
services at (530) 823-4850.
A look at statewide drought conditions
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Runoff is an unecessary waste of water that can be prevented by adjusting your sprinklers.
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 5
ow dry is it? The 2013
calendar year was the
driest ever measured
in Northern California.
This condition prevailed
through a mostly dry
2013/14 winter. Late win-
ter and spring brought
needed precipitation but
by early May the moun-
tain snowpack held only
16 percent of average
water content.
The thin snowpack is
producing little runoff
into mountain reservoirs
this spring and summer
and is causing concern
over levels of water stor-
age that will be available
for next year, should
another dry year occur.
Wide areas of Placer
County rely on water that
flows from the snowpack
of two mountain water-
sheds. Most Placer County
Water Agency (PCWA)
customers are supplied
with water that flows
down the Interstate 80
corridor from the Yuba
and Bear river watersheds,
and PCWA also is able to
pump a limited amount of
water from the American
River. The City of Roseville
receives most of its water
from the American River
via Folsom Reservoir.
Area water suppliers,
including PCWA, are uni-
fied in efforts to reduce
water use this summer.
Most have adopted volun-
tary and mandatory water
use restrictions. The
PCWA board in April
adopted a series of water
use regulations and
restrictions and urged
conservation in letters to
38,000 customers.
Exactly how dry is it?
Folsom Reservoir reached lows in January before late winter and spring rains
brought needed relief. This photo was taken Jan. 4.
Castle Peak, situated at 9,109 feet on the north
side of I-80 near Donner Summit, is usually caked
with snow in winter. This year, on Jan. 20, there
was no snow.
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6 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
Camping, boating, hik-
ing, fishing, swimming
and whitewater rafting are
among the public recre-
ational attractions of the
PCWA Middle Fork Amer-
ican River Project.
Located on the western
slope of the Sierra, the
Middle Fork Project
includes seven camp-
grounds, three group
campgrounds, three pic-
nic areas, four boat
launch ramps and a vista
Most of the attractions
are clustered around
French Meadows and Hell
Hole reservoirs; other
attractions are found near
South Fork Long Canyon
Creek and the Ralston
Afterbay/ Oxbow Reser-
voir. The two primary
access roads are Mosquito
Ridge Road from
Foresthill and Eleven
Pines Road from George-
A cautionary note for
this year: Water levels will
be lower than normal due
to the drought, and obsta-
cles such as tree stumps,
sand bars and rocks may
be exposed.
This year’s camping
season opened in mid-
May and is planned to
continue through mid-
September. Camping fees
range from free to $10 and
$24. Boat launch rates
range from free to $15.
Commercial outfitters
offer whitewater rafting
excursion on the Middle
Fork. Adequate water
flows for rating are antici-
pated through summer.
Camping, boating, hiking, fishing, swimming and rafting are among the public recreational attractions
of the PCWA Middle Fork American River Project, including this vista point at Hell Hole Reservoir.
Campground Reserva-
tions: or
(877) 444-6777. Some
campgrounds are first
come, first serve
Tahoe National
Eldorado National For-
DFG Fish Stocking at
French Meadows, Hell
(916) 351-0832
Placer Visitors
(530) 887-2111
Foresthill Divide Cham-
ber of Commerce:,
(530) 367-2474
Auburn Chamber of
Commerce: auburn-, (530) 885-
Tim Gunn, Owner
P.O. Box 274
Foresthill, CA 95631
(530) 367-3397
cell (530) 913-1339
The Yard Guy
CSL #952086 C-27 • Insured
Call Tim
(530) 887-9273
Is YOUR Yard Ready F or Sum mer? Is YOUR Yard Ready F or Sum mer? Is YOUR Yard Ready F or Sum mer?
• Landscaping
• Maintenance
& Clean Ups
• Irrigation
• Drainage
• Water Features
• Retaining Walls
Take advantage of outdoor recreation resources
mPower Placer offers
financing to property
owners making water
efficiency and other
energy efficiency
improvements. The loan
is then repaid on your
property tax bill (the cur-
rent interest rate is six
Water improvements
that may qualify include
irrigation replacement
with new high efficiency
irrigation, spray nozzles
and low volume drip sys-
tems, weather-based or
smart irrigation con-
trollers, fixture and toilet
replacements, other cus-
tom replacements.
For information on the
Placer County program,
see or
call (877) 396-7693.
Financing Water Efficiency
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 7
Location: 144 Ferguson Road,
Auburn, CA 95603
Phone: (530) 823-4850
(800) 464-0030
Twitter: @PlacerWater
Having a beautiful yard doesn’t have to mean using
a lot of water or spending a lot of money.
Go to to find local professionals and
resources that can help you upgrade, repair, design or
install your water-wise landscape and water efficient
irrigation system.
Restaurants can do their part to Be Water Smart by
serving water only upon request. Call PCWA Cus-
tomer Services at (530) 823-4850 for table tents or win-
dow clings.
Runoff is an
waste of water
that can be
prevented by
adjusting your
Save water, install a water-efficient drip system
Restaurants can be Water Smart by
only serving water upon request
8 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 9
10 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 11
Check Sprinklers Monthly
Especially in a drought, it’s important to check your sprinklers each month for water-wasting
problems. These include sprinklers that are broken, leaking, tilted, clogged, spraying the sidewalk
and misting versus spraying from too much pressure. Turn off water to the problem area and make
repairs within 48 hours
Soak and Cycle
Some sprinkler systems apply water faster than the ground will absorb, causing water to runoff your
landscape into the street and gutter. Here’s how to stop runnoff using the “soak and cycle” method:
■ Turn on sprinklers and see how long it takes for water to begin running off.
■ Adjust your sprinkler timer to water in three shorter segments. (If water begins running off
after two minutes – but your landscape needs six minutes of watering time – set your timer
to water in three shorter segments of two minutes each.
■ Leave an hour between watering times to allow water to soak into the soil.
Water Early or Later
Watering early in the day or later at night conserves water by allowing water to soak into
the soil before evaporation can whisk it away.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
Mulch is like icing on a cake, because it keeps the soil moist the way icing keeps a cake moist.
Mulch slows evaporation, allowing water to sink into the soil, moderates soil temperature
and breaks down into nutrients for plants. Be sure to add two to three inches of organic
mulch (e.g. leaves, wood chips) around trees and plants for the greatest benefit.
Use the Screwdriver Test
The best way to tell if your need to
water is by testing. Stick an eight-inch
screwdriver into the ground. If you can
push it more than three inches below
the surface, your landscape does not
need to be watered.
Leave Grass Long
Adjust the height setting on your
mower up one or two notches. Taller
grass promotes a deeper, more extensive
root system with increased drought
tolerance, reduces evaporation and
shades out weeds.
Prioritize your landscape into three categories:
■ High value/must save (including valueable trees and shrubs that have taken years to
establish, will die without water and have many benefits)
■ Moderate value/try to save (including certain perennials, newer shrubs that can be
replaced and low-water use and native plants that will require little water anyway once
■ Low value/save if possible (including lawn, which can often bounce back successfully from
drying out, and annuals)
Ration Water Across Your Landscape
Use limited supplies to water high-value trees and plants first. This will help them survive the
drought. If there is sufficient water, move on to the moderate- and low-value plants.
Add Compost and Mulch
Adding compost to soil builds a support system for plants. The sponge-like nature of compost means t hat
any water applied to your landscape will be absorbed and stay in your soil. Follow compost with two to
three inches of organic mulch to slow evaporation, protect roots, and moderate soil temperature.
Befriend the Bucket
Place buckets in your kitchen and bathroom sinks to capture water than can be put on plants outside. If
you take a bath, don’t drain the water. Instead, use the buckets to haul the bath water outside. You can
also keep a bucket in the shower to capture water as it warms up. Be sure to use plant-friendly soap s
(biodegradable, non-toxic, sodium and borax free) to avoid harming your plants.
Consider Gray Water
During drought, slightly used water can maximize water efficiency inside your home while
keeping precious plants and trees alive. Gray water includes water from bathtubs,
showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washers and laundry tubs, but does not include
wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers. Note that gray water systems are guided by
state building and permitting codes. You should check with your local government and
county health department for guidelines.
Consult a Green Gardener
Green Gardeners are landscape professionals trained in sustainable, water-wise landscaping. They can helpyou determine the
minimum amount of water required to keep plants alive and develop strategies for helping your landsc ape survive the drought.
12 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
For information on
how to take care of your
yard or garden during the
drought call the Placer
County Hotline at (530)
889-7388 or visit
• Compost, compost,
compost. Adding organic
matter to the soil
increases its water hold-
ing capacity.
• Mulch, mulch, mulch.
Covering the surface of
the soil decreases the
rate of evaporation up to
50 percent and cuts
down on thirsty weeds.
• Choose crops you like
to eat. Limit your vegeta-
bles to the ones your
family likes and will eat.
• Plant only as much as
you can eat. Limit the
number of plants to a
reasonable amount for
your uses.
• Plant closer to shade
between plants. Sun on
soil increases evapora-
tion. Shade your beds
with your veggies. Plant
in blocks, instead of rows
and reduce spacing
between plants.
• Inspect irrigation
often. Look for leaks and
wasted water. Be sure
water is getting to the
roots of your plants.
• Apply water slowly to
the base of plants. Be
sure your water only goes
to the vegetable plants’
roots. Water deeply and
less often to encourage
roots to go deep into the
• Water early or late.
There is less water loss in
the cooler times of day.
• Check soil moisture.
Before you water, look at
and feel the soil to check
dryness, not just at the
surface, but 4-6 inches
• Plant in containers.
Less soil needs less
water. Water is directed
right to plant roots. Put a
bucket in your shower
and use shower “warm-
up” water.
~ The University of
California, Placer
County Master Gardeners
Maintain your
vegetable garden
with less water
Teaching children about low water use plants helps them build a foundation for smart gardening.
Water efficient landscapes can save water and money.
530.906.0606 530.673.1377
Fast Friendly Mobile Service
17593 Penn Valley Dr.
Wood & Gas Stoves, Fireplaces, Accessories,
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Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 13
14 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
There are a lot of ways to
save water, but sometimes it’s
best to start with the biggest
bang for your buck:
Outdoor Tips
• Limit landscape watering to
three days per week in the sum-
• Use native and drought-toler-
ant plants in your yard or garden.
• Adjust sprinklers to reduce
overspray and runoff.
Indoor Tips
• Limit showers to five minutes
or less.
• Check plumbing and appli-
ances for leaks and fix them with-
in 48 hours.
• Install high-efficiency fixtures
and appliances such as toilets,
showerheads, faucets, dishwash-
ers and clothes washers.
Best ways to save water
Open Daily 8am - 7pm • Sunday 9am - 6pm
2435 Drive In Way Auburn, CA (On Hwy 49, 2 Blks So. of Bell Rd.) 2435 Drive In Way Auburn, CA (On Hwy 49, 2 Blks So. of Bell Rd.)
(530) 887-8522
(530) 887-8522
Call the
Vote Cruiser’s for best Auto Detail
Thank You Auburn
for voting
Cruiser’s Car Wash
The Best of The Best!
Cruiser’s Loves our Community!
Cruiser’s Loves our Community! Cruiser’s Loves our Community!
The water problems we face are complex and urgent. The only way to create a healthier future is for everyone to do their
part. We must use less water and protect water sources to reduce the impact of the current water sho rtage. There are
actions that each of us can take at home, online and outside to reduce the impact. When you wash you r car at home or
on pavement, the water runoff – along with all the chemicals it contains – can go to storm drains t hat empty directly
into rivers and streams. This pollution has been proven to negatively impact aquatic life and ecosys tems. These “home-
washes” can easily use up to 100 to 300 gallons of fresh water, by completion.
Cruiser’s Carwash and Detail Center has taken the challenge, and has become a WaterSavers ® car wash. We have
chosen the equipment, chemicals and treatments that prevent water pollution by routing wash water to treatment prior
to its return to the environment. Cruiser’s car wash uses only 6 to 10 gallons of fresh water per ca r, wash – less than
running a batch of wash in the washing machine. We recommend that you consider washing your vehicle at a car wash
that focuses on making a difference with water conservation and the environment.
What Cruiser’s is trying to do to focus on water conservation, and do our part:
• At Cr uiser’s Carwash the water discharge is routed to water treatment underground tank.
• A backflow prevention device has been installed and operated with the potable water supply.
• All spray nozzles are inspected regularly to ensure maximum efficiency of water used.
• All water-saving devices are maintained to original or improved specifications for the conservatio n of water.
• Spot-free reverse osmosis concentrate is being used in the wash process.
• Cruiser’s car wash meets all local effluent criteria.
• The products that we use are certifiably eco-friendly and have chosen the manufactures and compani es that are
leaders is their pursuit of soaps that meet the highest environmental protection tests.
Please take advantage of our “Free Car Washes” held monthly. These events are posted at the wash, on our facebook
page, and through our texting club. Traditionally they are held the last Friday of the month. Please call for the
specifications and more details. If you “Like us “ on facebook, you will receive courtesy reminders. If you choose to visit
us on “Customer Appreciation Day”, you will receive a free was, use our vacuums free of charge, and be given the
opportunity to give a donation to that month’s local charity.
We, at Cruiser’s Car Wash and Detail Center, are committed to do our part for the environment in thi s fine
community. Will you do the same?
Don’t be a gutter-flooder. Adjust sprinklers to reduce overspray and runoff. Promptly repair any broken sprinklers.
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 15
16 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media
Treated water users
Customers who use
treated, piped water are
being asked to limit out-
door irrigation to no more
than three days per week
in July and August; two
days per week in April,
May, June, September,
October, November. Irri-
gate only during the
overnight hours (between
6 p.m. and 9 a.m.), add
mulch to preserve soil
moisture and do not allow
runoff onto streets or
driveways. Many more
indoor and outdoor water
saving tips may be found
Early in the year, when
drought conditions
appeared more critical,
Placer County Water
Agency (PCWA) directors
considered limiting water
connections for new con-
struction. After spring
rains eased the situation,
the board allowed new
connections to continue
with the provision that
new services adhere to
specifications outlined in
the California Model
Water Efficient Landscape
Irrigation water
PCWA has installed 10
percent smaller orifices
on the canal water outlets
of approximately 2,600
irrigation water cus-
tomers with one-inch or
larger services. This is
expected to produce sig-
nificant water savings.
Customers with outlets of
less than one inch are
instructed to reduce their
use by 10-20 percent.
Mandarin orange grow-
er Tony Aguilar Jr. of High-
land Orchard, Inc. in Pen-
ryn receives irrigation
water from PCWA. He
said a 10 percent use
reduction is reasonable
and should be achievable
by most local farmers.
“I feel that PCWA is
doing a great job in work-
ing with the raw water
customers,” Aguilar said.
PCWA directors also
determined that irrigation
customers who choose to
limit or forego service this
year would not lose prior-
ity or face reconnection
fees next year.
Agricultural water users
in Zone 5 west of Lincoln
who receive surplus water
from PCWA and are being
limited this year to a total
5,000 acre-feet, about 25
percent of average. The
water comes with a price;
it must be pumped from
the American River and
includes added charges
for electrical pumping.
The one-year rate is
$106.85 per acre-foot,
more than four times
what the farmers normal-
ly pay.
Drought impacts
This year’s water short-
age is expected to be cost-
ly for PCWA. Director of
Financial Services Joe
Parker estimates the
agency is facing financial
losses of about $6.6 mil-
lion this year in reduced
water sales along with
increased costs of drought
year operations.
Tony Aguilar Jr., left, operator of Highland Orchard
in Penryn, walks along the Morgan Canal with
Justin Rawlins of PCWA. Aguilar uses PCWA canal
water to irrigate his mandarin orange groves and
berry patches. He said this year’s 10 percent water
use reduction is reasonable considering the severi-
ty of the drought.
Water agency makes effort to conserve
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here are several things you
can do right now to con-
serve water and still have
an abundant harvest. I am list-
ing several strategies for main-
taining an effective home veg-
etable garden when water
resources are limited.
• Compost and mulch. Perhaps
the two most important ele-
ment of sustainable garden-
ing. Compost is a fully decom-
posed organic soil amendment
that enables the soil to retain
moisture while adding nutri-
ents. Mulch goes on top of soil;
a 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch can
reduce watering needs as much
as 50 percent. Mulch reduces
water evaporation and keeps
soil temperatures down during
the hot summer days. Mulch is
also a good weed suppressor.
• Choose the right kind and
amount of crop. Choose only
the crops that your family will
eat. The seed packets have great
pictures on them and they all
look good, but do you really
need seven varieties of
beans? Limit the amount of
plants to a reasonable amount
for your own use. Many heir-
loom varieties from the
Mediterranean regions are
drought tolerant and produce a
more abundant yield per plant.
• Plant in enclosed spaces.
Raised beds retain water better
than gardens planted in open
soil. The soil does not become
compacted and the plants can
be planted closer together to
shade each other. Think
bunches or squares instead of
rows. You can obtain the same
amount of harvest in much less
• Companion planting. Plant
crops together that have the
same moisture needs. The
“three sisters” approach of
planting corn, beans and
squash together is an excellent
example of companion plant-
ing. The corn provides shade
and support for the climbing
beans. The beans return nitro-
gen back into the soil, while the
squash spreads across the soil
acting as mulch and keeping
the soil cool.
• Control the weeds. Weeds
take valuable water, sunshine,
and nutrients from the soil.
Remove them as soon as you
recognize them.
• Water effectively. Before you
water, look and feel the soil to
check the dryness. Water early
or late in the day as there is less
water loss in the cooler times of
the day. Add water slowly only
to the roots, water deeply and
less often to encourage the
roots to go deeper into the soil.
• Incorporate good watering
habits. Drip or trickle irrigation
is ideal for the vegetable garden,
reducing water usage up to 50
percent. Use “flag valves” to
turn the drip off on unplanted
or harvested areas. Do not
water where you have harvest-
ed the crop. For example, if you
have harvested the cabbage, do
not continue to water the
remaining plant.
• For more detailed informa-
tion. Check out the Placer
County Masters Gardeners’ web
site, and click
on “Drought Advice” in the left
side column. It contains many
“research-based” articles to get-
ting the most from your garden
during low water availability.
Creating a garden that needs less water
Drip or trickle irrigation is
ideal for the vegetable
garden, reducing water
usage up to 50 percent.
Supplement to Gold Country Media FIRE & WATER June 1, 2014 19
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20 June 1, 2014 FIRE & WATER Supplement to Gold Country Media

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