Woodlanders are conserving water at an astonishing rate.

City reports indicate that water usage during this May was 46% below its overall water usage in May of 2014.  This measured reduction rate amounts to about 84 gallons per day, per capita.

Likely, this huge usage decline leads the state in proportional water-conservation efforts.  The state is mandating only about 25% use reductions, depending upon circumstances.

But, will continuing drought evaporate Woodland’s expectation of receiving Sacramento River water, intended to be pumped through its new river-water intake facility, built in alliance with Davis and costing $79 million?

In 2014, according to city records, Woodland’s (“senior”) water-right would have received only 40% of its allocation demand from this new surface-water project, planned and implemented during recent years.  It is due to begin supplying water in May of 2016.

This new (Woodland, Davis, little bit of UCD) water facility is a partnership with Conaway Preservation Group (CPG), which will receive 80% of siphoned river water, while these public entities will receive 20%.  It’s easy to understand why CPG was a willing partner in this project, alongside great value arising for Woodland and Davis.

Precipitous Curtailment Of Water Right In 2014 

Thirty-year long graphs of water data indicate that delivery upon the city’s water rights appears secure, until 2014, when a spectacular, drought-caused drop occurs in access, to just 40%, for its primary (“senior”) water right.

Woodland also has an annual, secondary water right to 10,000 acre-feet released from Lake Shasta, fully guaranteed by its agreement with CPG, as long as there is enough water in the Lake (presently about half-full and slowly dropping within this dry season).

Perhaps the most reliable weather forecasts, signal that odds are looming for another dryer than normal winter.  Continuing drought would further reduce Woodland’s primary water-right allocation from 40%, into historically unknown territory.

As well, continued drought could eventually drain Shasta Lake to a point jeopardizing service of the city’s “junior” water-right.  Basically, water rights obtained prior to 1914 (when state regulation began) are considered to be “senior,” grandfathered ahead of “junior” water rights.

Woodland greatly needs river (surface) water for mixing with its ground water, to avoid municipal effluent problems identified and monitored by federal authorities, leading to substantial fines for non-compliance with federal water standards.

In general, the city’s (relevant) water-hardness measure would drop from about 25 to 5, with introduction of enough surface (river) water into its present, groundwater delivery system.

If the city receives its expectation of river water, water-softening will become unnecessary.

Woodland’s Water Bank

Woodland is surely ready to harvest river water and bank it, using injection into a suitable aquifer underneath the City, about 50 feet in width, located about 450 feet belowground.

Greg Meyer, Woodland’s Public Works Director, describes that as much as — 10 billion gallons — of properly treated water could eventually be stored within this aquifer and accessible to the City.  He says that the world’s most experienced and capable experts with such technology are advising the City about its aquifer-storage program.

Meyer explains that this underground aquifer can be used as a water bank, with the city filling it in times of plenty and then withdrawing water as needed, while slowly increasing its balance up to a perceived maximum of 10 billion gallons. He relates that water storage within this aquifer would push out existing (“bad”) groundwater, which would not mingle with the injected water.  Also, storage within this aquifer, depicts Meyer, would not be compromised by the many farmland wells, recently drilled in anticipation of drought conditions.

Meyer believes that the city is far ahead of most other municipalities and water agencies in California, with regard to its water access, storage and conservation program.

Supporting his surmise, is the fact that its water conservation expert has just been hired away by Davis, which is paying an extra $20,000 annually for this valued (former) city employee, in hopes of best advancing its own water-conservation program, saying a lot about the quality of Woodland’s recent approaches to water issues.

Thus, Woodland seems well situated to grapple with extended drought conditions, just as long as enough water comes down the Sacramento River to provide it that opportunity.