Jackson County commissioners in March declared a local drought disaster and asked the state for an emergency declaration to help free up resources for industries suffering the effects of a dry winter. Snowpack in the Rogue Basin was at 31 percent of average. Eight snow monitoring sites in the basin set new record lows, including three sites on Mount Ashland.
At a “Drought Summit” meeting in Ashland on Tuesday, city administrator Dave Kanner thanked residents for significantly cutting water use and said Reeder Reservoir has been near full all summer, but he reminded residents that there are still two hot summer months left and the creek has “slowed to a trickle. There will probably be next to nothing flowing in by the end of the summer.”
Curtailment - restriction of water use to certain levels, with financial penalties for use over those levels - is still a possibility if the reservoir levels drop below the necessary capacity needed to get through the summer.
Ashland’s current water use is equivalent to a stage two curtailment and the city could implement stage three curtailment if water levels continue to drop. In stage three curtailment, water use over 1,800 cubic feet — a level of use that’s approximately twice the average water customer’s winter use — would be billed at four times the normal rate.
If declared, Kanner believes level three would take about a week to implement.
What to do
Residents are encouraged to take shorter showers and lower their irrigation use. More permanent changes are also available, such as the city’s lawn replacement program or rebate programs for installing more efficient toilets and washers.
Ashland water customers can pick up low-flow shower heads, ground moisture meters and other items for free at the Community Development Building (51 Winburn Way).
More information about the city’s water supply and usage is available at www.ashland.or.us/drought2014 and about landscaping at www.ashlandsaveswater.org.
Information about rebates offered by the city is at bit.ly/COArebates, and information about other water saving tips is at bit.ly/h2otips.