At a special meeting of the GWSSA operating committee held Thursday, June 12, the board voted unanimously to ease the irrigation water restrictions for the current year from 25 percent to just 5 percent, meaning that users will be permitted to use up to 95 percent of their normal annual water allotment this season.
GWSSA manager Mark Sovine said the 75 percent allotment (a 25 percent reduction) had been in place since early in the 2014 season, but with an estimated 1,942 acre feet of water in Ken’s Lake as of June 12, the board voted to increase this year’s allotment by another 20 percent to 95 percent.
“A generous spring runoff, wet weather, and your continued conservation efforts helped make this increase possible,” Sovine wrote in a June 16 letter mailed out to GWSSA customers informing them of the change.
The amount of water now available for each irrigation user is significantly higher than it has been the past two years, which have been plagued by drought. The GWSSA imposed a 40 percent restriction in 2012, meaning users could only use 60 percent of their normal allotment. The following year (2013) was even worse water year, and irrigation users were limited to just 40 percent of their normal allotment, or a 60 percent reduction, Sovine noted.
“2014 is much closer to normal,” Sovine said. “It’s looking a lot better than it has the past two years. Ken’s Lake has more than three times as much water in it as it did at this time last year.”
Sovine noted that this year’s water levels in Ken’s Lake appear to have peaked in early June, when reservoir was about three-quarters full.
With approximately one-third of the 2014 watering season now over with, Sovine said he is cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the year.
“Our year-to-date precipitation is still only at 77 percent, even with a good runoff,” Sovine said. “Still, we’re confident that we should have adequate water in the lake at the end of the year.”
Len and Sheryl Sorensen, who grow alfalfa on a 10-acre field across from their home in Spanish Valley, were among the irrigation water customers who were pleased with the change. “It’s great news,” said Sheryl Sorensen, who added, “Last year, we were able to get only two cuttings of alfalfa, but this year we should be able to get four.”
The GWSSA and its associated boards will next meet for their regularly scheduled meetings at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, at the agency offices at 3025 E. Spanish Trail Road.