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Water And Power Agencies Sharing Drought Plans

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Merced River at Briceburg in September 2013. Water levels were six inches deep in some places and moss was growing on the rocks. A year-and-a-half later, water agencies worry the river will be completely dry by mid-summer.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio


Lake McClure is on the Merced River and formed by the Exchequer Dam. John Sweigard is General Manager of the Merced Irrigation District. He says the district will file a petition with the State of California next week regarding the operation of the dam and the lake.

"We're gonna be working with the State Water Board. We're going to be working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife on taking a step back and looking at how we operate Exchequer for all of its needs and our objective of course is to try to keep a wet river, keep as much stored water in Exchequer as we can and just keep everything alive."

Sweigard says he expects the Merced River to be completely dry by August.

On the American River, hydroelectric generators aren't producing as expected. Paul Olmstead is with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.  
 
"We're probably getting half of what we expected to get this year, so we increase our outside purchases, including our renewable resources -our green energy programs," says Olmstead.

SMUD says it will also use more fossil fuels to  meet its power needs.

In Sacramento County, Supervisor Don Nottoli says he expects the county and local water agencies to begin a combination of long-term, underground storage projects and more short-term conservation orders for residents.  

"As we look at our streetscapes and our roadways, I think  we're gonna have to be careful we don't lose a lot of the trees and shrubs that in a lot of cases are mature. They're part of the canopy that makes our aesthetics and certainly cool our neighborhoods. We're going to have to look at areas that have lawn and grass and make the necessary adjustments there. A lot of those areas are going to be browner this year," says Nottoli.

The State of California is expected to issue new drought-related regulations by early May.


Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings' saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.   Read Full Bio