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San Joaquin County may still be faced with a 15 percent water reduction by summer

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Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 10:00 pm

It isn't official yet, but it appears San Joaquin County will face a 15-percent mandatory water reduction by summer.

"Barring a storm parked right over the county, we're probably looking at restrictions," Deputy Public Works Director Steve Winkler said.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously declared a "drought condition" and directed its staff to draft a new ordinance and propose some conservation measures. Winkler said that the ordinance and conservation measures should be available for the board's review in about six weeks.

Based on the current rain and snowpack outlook, county officials are projecting a Stage 3 alert and a 15-percent mandatory reduction.

A "drought condition" is serious, but it falls short of being a so-called "emergency," which would have to be severe enough to threaten public health and safety.

"Current conditions do not warrant such a declaration," according to a staff report from the county Public Works Department.

The most severe designation would be a Stage 4, which would require a 30-percent reduction.

The four stage alerts are not in the current ordinance, so water officials and the County Counsel's office will draw up a new ordinance for the Board of Supervisors' consideration.

Before bringing a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, county officials will work with Lodi and the county's six other cities, plus local water districts, to develop water use guidelines, Winkler said.

The board is looking to change the current ordinance because it has a "one size fits all" approach with no accounting for varying drought conditions, according to the staff report.

The county has control only of small county-operated water districts in communities like Woodbridge, Thornton, Acampo, Victor, Clements and Morada. In northern San Joaquin County, the Lodi City Council and Lockeford Community Services District would would be at their own discretion regarding water conservation.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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