Efforts to Combat Drought In Davis Implemented Through Approval of Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Drop Falling into Water ca. 2000


Drop Falling into Water ca. 2000
Drop Falling into Water ca. 2000


By Neshmia Alam


DAVIS, CA — On May 24, 2022, Davis’ City Council approved the implementation of Shortage Level Two of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP). The WSCP has been implemented in response to a three-year-long drought in California.


The plan follows the requirements of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-7-22 which requires all cities of California to make efforts to conserve water in response to the state-wide water shortage.


Public Works Utilities & Operations Director Stan Gryczko, Assistant to the Director Adrienne Heinig, and Conservation coordinator Dawn Calciano all made appearances at the City Council meeting to present on the specifics of the WSCP’s Level Two. 


Heinig prefaced the presentation by stating that “most of our actions associated with shortage Level Two are already in place” with efforts to combat the fact that “Yolo county is in extreme drought.” 


She explained that such implemented actions included steps to “ban irrigation of non-functional turf,” as well as restrictions on water irrigation since November 2021. 


As part of the additional steps of WSCP’s Level Two, vehicle washing will be prohibited. This comes with the exception of “commercial car washes that recirculate water” and “use a high pressure, low volume water system.”


Other steps that can immediately be taken to combat the water shortage include “working with parks to modify irrigation timing” and reducing “water system loss” through the purchase of water system monitors.


Calciano emphasized that actions have been taken in the past to conserve water, including a proactive irrigation restriction in October 2021 and an ordinance in February 2022. However, she added “we need to be continuing our conservation efforts” because “the state and city have seen increased water use.” 


Not all water usage will be limited, however. As part of a holistic environmental effort, “tree watering is not limited” under Level Two of the WSCP.


In April 2022, water usage in Davis had increased 5.25% from 2020 but decreased by 17.5% from 2021. Calciano also suggested that due to irrigation restrictions, the city may see “increased reductions as we move into the summer months.”


In addition to restricting water usage, Level Two of the WSCP will include outreach to the community. Currently, the City of Davis’ website already includes a page on drought information. The focus on increasing outreach is on “updating [people] moving into the summer months” about “how people can save water.” Part of this will include promoting the California Save Our Water program.


Calciano also spoke about the city’s use of AquaHawk, a water use portal that can track water usage and “can be used to monitor and set leak alerts.” 


The presentation ended with a call from Gryczko, Heinig, and Calciano to adopt the implementation of the WSCP’s Shortage Level Two.


City Council members voted unanimously to adopt the resolution and go forward with the WSCP.


Should there be further needs to address the drought, the city may move to Level Three of the WSCP. According to Heinig, this could include “keeping our fountains dry,” “installation of new drought resistant trees, shrubs, and groundcover,” and limited “sprinkler irrigation.”


In June, representatives from the Public Works Utilities & Operations department will present on the water supply outlook and what changes will be made in the fall. 


About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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