RP discusses state’s Big Drought
City council says RP has a head start on other municipalities
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By Jud Snyder  January 31, 2014 12:00 am

While President Barack Obama was addressing Congress, the Supreme Court justices and slews of dignitaries back in  Washington with his State of the Union speech, Rohnert Park’s City Council was discussing the California Big Drought, as it’s sometimes billed.

It was no contest. In fact, discussion about the drought was minimal, and it took up only a few minutes on the council agenda.

There were two reasons why this happened Tuesday night in city hall. 

The first was because David Rabbitt, Second District Supervisor on Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors, was scheduled to talk to the council about the drought, but couldn’t make the meeting due to an illness in the family. 

The second reason was because veteran city councilman Jake Mackenzie provided some “reality figures” pertaining to RP’s water consumption rates in the county. They provided a correct statistical viewpoint for the council.

“Rohnert Park has the lowest water consumption rate per capita in the entire county,” he said. “In 1977, our rate was 177 gallons per day per capita and our latest rate was 90 gallons per capita, the best in the county. Not only that, Lake Sonoma reservoir is at 70 percent of its capacity.”

The reduction was due to RP residents who adopted many water-saving measures in and around their homes, the heavy use of recycled water to irrigate athletic fields and city parks and the many waterless plantings in small city parks and even at city hall.

Nevertheless, the city council voted unanimously to adopt a request from City Manager Darrin Jenkins to “alert our citizens to the unprecedented serious drought matter facing our state.” It called for a 20-percent reduction in water use citywide.

“At this point, reduction in water use remains voluntary; however, it could move to ‘mandatory’ if the situation does not improve,” Jenkins said in his staff report. Mackenzie made the motion to approve the resolution and Councilwoman Pam Stafford seconded it. A minute later it was 5-0. No one from the public commented. 

Supervisor Rabbitt is also chairman of the Sonoma County Water Agency. In an agency press release he said, “We took immediate action to preserve water in Lake Mendocino (up near Ukiah) when we saw no rain in the forecasts and falling reservoir levels.

“We will get through this drought by working together and saving every drop of water we can.”

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