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Sonoma and California face major long range problems: Coronavirus and drought!

The Plague affects us all. Each day the local papers tell of us that “help is coming!” Yet, no clear direction has been given of what to do. At the same time reports arrive of citizens in other counties having access to inoculations. Hopefully delivery systems in Sonoma County will soon be active and lives will be saved.

Will there be water rationing?

The second problem facing all citizens, not agriculture alone, is the coming drought. This writer doesn’t know how little rain must fall for authorities to officially declare a drought exists. However, at this point in the rain year we may be there. The Santa Rosa PD reviewed the problem in a January Sunday edition (Jan. 17, 2021). Our water supplies from Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma are significantly dry and below normal.

One can view the seriousness of the problem by looking at rainfall figures here in the Springs. This writer has registered rainfall (or lack of it) every day with CoCoRAHS (Community Coordinated Rain and Hail Studies at Colorado State University) since rain year 2004-05. The data is transmitted to the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The rain year extends from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 the following year.

After nearly four months in the 2020-21 rain year there has been a mere 4.54” of rainfall in the Springs. The average rainfall over the past seventeen years at this time of the rain year is 11.46”. The lowest rainfall by mid-January 2013-14 was 0.12” in 2013-14. The highest rainfall was 24.79”in mid-January 2005-06.

So, pray for rain! If we reach the point of an official drought, the County and/or the State of California may begin water rationing. Rationing is implemented by the water district in various ways, including water rate increases. Other water saving campaigns encourage citizens to limit bathing times, turn off the faucet in the garden and lawns, minimize use in the bathrooms and kitchens, and recall the saying, “If it’s yellow that’s mellow, but if brown, flush it down!” Those were measures imposed in California in the 1970s.

Drought is a recurring feature of our climate. California has experienced a five-year event in 2012-2016, and other notable historical droughts in 2007-09, 1987-92, 1976-77, and dry years in the decades of the 1920s and 1930s.

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