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Jim Chambers's picture
Joined: 05/04/2015
Posts: 1
Water shortage - moratorium on building

Dear Fellow Residents of Rancho Murieta

My name is Jim Chambers.  As a resident of Rancho Murieta for over twenty years, I have been following the progress through the bureaucratic system of the proposed development(s).  Now, because as a result of the growing California water crises, I feel it is important to share my concerns as well as present an urgent request. 

Please understand, I am not opposed to growth and development.  However, I firmly believe it must be done, responsibly, with transparent checks and balances, and a conscious awareness of how it will impact the quality of life in our small, but unique community.  Ronald Reagan once mentioned that Rancho Murieta represented a special balance between development and nature.  Unfortunately unless immediate action is taken that is all about to change.  For those of you who might not be aware, most of the trees in our surrounding oak forest have been tagged for development and ground is already being broken for construction near the North Entrance.  Currently over 1500 new houses and one hotel are slated for construction in Rancho Murieta.  600+ were approved several years ago and 900+ currently identified on recent plans submitted to the county.  In addition a hotel has been approved and construction is pending the completion of the water treatment plant upgrade.  The cumulative total on all this development is of great concern.

The developers and pro- development agency members of CSD, RMA and the County would like us to believe there is substantial water for all our needs and that the numbers substantiating this are all documented. I challenge this as both erroneous and misleading.  Most of those numbers were derived from well records and river flows and usage rates no longer valid because current conditions have changed so drastically.  For example, I personally witnessed the Consumes River run dry last summer.  I doubt you will find that in any of the reports.  That there is a drought is no longer just a concern, it is a fact.  Warning signs along the freeways, articles in the newspaper, television reports, weather models and the Governor’s mandate should leave no doubt about how critical this situation is.  Currently on the news there are reports of areas within our State completely running out of water and the condition of those areas are being equated to that of a third world country.  Imagine if that happens to Rancho Murieta, and it could.  What do you think your house will be worth when you have to put in a disclaimer when selling saying, “insufficient water.”  How do you think the quality of life for yourself, your children and future generations will be impacted?  Because of these concerns I am requesting that:

  • RMA, CSD and developers voluntarily establish an immediate Moratorium on all development including those currently approved until it is confirmed there is adequate water to support growth without additional sacrifice to residents and community.
  • (Please note, if the above mentioned parties choose to ignore this request additional actions may be required to allow the community sufficient time to independently confirm the impact of additional housing on our current water resources.)
  • A hydrologist, not funded by “vested interest parties” be retained by RMA to prepare an independent hydrology study of current potable water conditions and resources with recommendations on availability of water for existing and future growth.  Based on those recommendations:
  • The proposed residential plans shall be redesigned to retain significant areas of undisturbed watershed forest and grasslands. The original growth estimate, i.e. number of projected residents which was based on historic seasonal water flows and potential ground water resources that are no longer valid be revised to reflect current conditions and trends.
  • Number or residence shall be reduced such that any future development shall not create an additional water usage hardship or negatively impact the quality of life for the existing community and its residents.
  • When and if it is confirmed there is adequate water to support additional growth that growth be done in reduced increments as recommended by the hydrology study.

There have been comments made by some officials stating that wells will be dug to supplement Murieta’s water supply.  Please do not be misled.  Currently Rancho Murieta was asked to provide water to one nearby rancher who has already run out of water.  Wells in the surrounding area are drilling deeper to reach the diminishing aquifer. Brackish (non-potable) water has shown up in some wells.  In Sloughhouse at least one well has lost 60% of its capacity.  The reality is wells under current conditions are no longer a dependable source for water.  There was also a comment on digging the lakes deeper for storage.  If the supply of water continues to diminish then all that would do is make a deeper hole with the same amount of water in it but now lower.  Last year with the current number of residents Rancho Murieta went to a stage 2 water restriction alert.  Since then the drought conditions have become worse.  Adding more residences at this time does not make sense as it will only exacerbate the situation.  Who in their right mind would under these conditions say, “sure we’re in a drought and short on water --- let’s make it worse!”

This request for a moratorium on building is being made out of a deep concern and love for our community.  There is a saying, “no action is action.”  If you care about Rancho Murieta and the quality of life that makes it such a special place, now is the time for action.  Now is the time to contact RMA, CSD, the developers, the County and the Governor and express your concerns.  Now is the time to organize.  It will be through “strength in numbers” that our voices will be heard.  If we do nothing, then the developers will move forward and we will be “mandated” to sacrifice until there is nothing left to sacrifice, and I guarantee none of those responsible will stay around to face the consequences of their actions.  Please become involved as if the very quality of your life and the community were at stake……. for it does.

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Jan Kays's picture
Joined: 05/06/2008
Posts: 115
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

You have put down what I have been thinking for some time but had not been able to express.  Thank you.

Bill McCarver's picture
Joined: 08/19/2007
Posts: 67
Extremely Well Stated

Mr. Chambers, your post was very well written and was right on point.  I fully agree with your assessment of the situation do believe we, the current residents, better get on our horses and get something done before it is too late.  Count me in.

Bill McCarver

Hans Koning-Bastiaan's picture
Joined: 12/07/2012
Posts: 2
Water Shortage

Jim Chambers,

You are totally correct and I agree that somthing needs to be done to verfy the water supply. The Governor mandated a 20% reduction in water use throughout the state. We in Rancho Murieta are saving on watering our yards and looking for other means to conserve water. Why are we saving on water now if we have enough to supply that many additional houses?

I also believe that it is irresponsible to add 50% to the population in Rancho Murieta at this time and use the same amount of water per household. But then developers come, build, make money and go. Is that the case here at RM? Do some investors need to make money regardless the water supply. How did they obtain the permits and how is the water shortage explained?

Is it that when we have the new water recovery plant in operation which will suppy purified recycled wast water that we all of a sudden have enough water to supply 50 to 60% homes? Not to mention the Hotel (guest realy conserve water). 

I fullheartly aggree that a study must be completed to ensure that the water supply is adequate for the increase in houses. 

How can we organize so that we get assurances that the water supply for all of us in Rancho Murieta is adequate.

Hans Koning-Bastiaan, a consernd resident of Rancho Murieta

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
let's have a meeting!

Jim, many in this community agree with you, so let's have a meeting. How about you find a place to meet like the RMA, find a time and date that works, and we will be there.

Myrna Solomon

Robert Baker's picture
Joined: 03/19/2013
Posts: 4
I'M IN!!

I could not agree more with everything you have said. Lets get organized!!

Lew Parkinson's picture
Joined: 11/19/2014
Posts: 10
I agree with all of the

I agree with all of the above.  But, this is not new.  It's been going on for a few years now.  In the past we had two very capable leaders (Candy and Jan) who needed our support.  These issues have been before the Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors.  The RMCSD  (Ed Crouse) continually testified that there was plenty of water for all.  Arguements to the contrary fell on deaf ears.  At this point, it seems all approvals have been received.  Just the permiting process remains.  At this point it may be too late to do anything.  I'll support an effort to take another look. 

Lew Parkinson

Brenda Sizemore's picture
Joined: 02/16/2008
Posts: 40
Water Shortage Crisis

Dear Jim,

I applaud you for posting your thoughts about water crisis.  I believe alot of us are thinking and feeling the same way. We all love our community and have lived in RM for many years and love the small community atmosphere and to see it jeopordized is truly sad. I was appalled by hearing that RM CSD is selling out water to local ranchers!! I too saw the Consumnes River dry up last summer and it really scared me and its getting low now and we have not even seen any hot days yet. I am trully worried about having enough water for the current residents let alone all the new building going on. I too think it is irresponsible behaviour on part of the RMA Board.  With selling water to local Ranchers, doesnt that have to be a board decision to do so or post a notice for the community feedback before doing it?

Last week we saw the building at the new gate, water blasting the new concrete work on Lago and RM Parkway, we were thinking that is alot of water being wasted.

I believe it is time to take a stand and form a group to discuss the water issues and put together a petition if needed to put a moratorium on any building and selling of our water.  Please, let's put a meeting together to discuss, both my husband any myself will be there and help.  It is time to take a stand and protect our community. 

Thank you again for your posting! 

Rowie & Brenda Sizemore

916/690-6551

Fred Kesich's picture
Joined: 09/30/2011
Posts: 20
Water Storage

I do believe our water storage lakes have been designed for Build Out, and the ability to withstand 3 years of drought. 

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Water issues

Yes, Fred, lakes were designed for full build-out and are currently 99% or so full. As someone wrote previously, Ed Crouse did say we have enough water. He was referring to raw water (our rights to draw from the Cosumnes River) and NOT treated; i.e., potable water. The completion of the new water treatment plant will, I believe, provide adequate water for those units which already have their county entitlements.at this point. I would like to see RMA rethink their front gate landscaping plans. They can take a hint from the innumerable residents who have replaced their thirsty verdant lawns with drought-tolerant plants.

Bobbi Belton

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
North Gate Landscaping

I wonder who drew up the planting plans for the New North....The lettering on the North walls that say "A Private Community" is totally unseen since they planted high growing plants right under the signage.....shouldn't they have put some low growing or ground cover plants there????  Hummmm....and are they watering all the new landscaping with non-potable water????  Just curious!!!!

Bill Gengler's picture
Joined: 06/26/2008
Posts: 99
Environmental Impact Review

Is there a way that these comments might be released to county planners and officials who have been overlooking much of the problems we have with building in eco-friendly areas and our water supplies?  How about reviewing an Environmental Impact Statement  (EIS) that addresses these issues and more.  Who is responsible for that and has it been done?  Some crazy stuff going on here!  Nice comments, Jim Chambers, they can certainly raise awareness of these problems.  thanks

William Gengler

 

Gretchen Beyer's picture
Joined: 05/07/2015
Posts: 1
Serious Drought Concerns

While my husband and I are new residents to RM we have been visiting here for many years and love this community.  That being said we are shocked over the obvious wasted water use during this time when our state is  quickly running out of water .

We were amazed to see sod being installed at the front entrance to the north gate.  Did no one consider the possibility of ornamental rock, or bark until we once again have a normal winter rainfall?? Also, as a previous post indicated, why would one plant flowers that have already covered the lettering on the stone wall?  Rather than using water for grass tn the common areas the water would be better used to save the trees which are already suffering from lack of enough water. 

Last and even more important we believe there is a need to have a moritoriam on future building of homes until the water crisis is over.  We would be happy to attend a meeting to hear further discussions on these issues. 

Thank you Jim Chambers for  your passionate letter addressing this grave concern for all residents of RMCC.

Gretchen and Dean Beyer

 

 

Gretchen Beyer

Carol Frost Gustafson's picture
Joined: 08/25/2007
Posts: 45
Water shortage

The impact 500+ new homes with a severe water shortage, vastly increased traffic and lack of schools is simply unacceptable. Did not like the delays resulting from north gate construction? Try waiting in a rush hour back up that goes down Jackson Highway to Folsom Blvd. We may need traffic controls on Scott Road. Where will the children go to school?

Just Wondering.

 

 

Lisa Beauchamp's picture
Joined: 06/04/2013
Posts: 24
CSD grants RMA water variance?

Yesterday on my way to work I was surprised to see them watering the ‘new’ landscaping at the front gate.  What came to mind is the state regulation of no watering 48 hours after rain.  I was curious if RMA was exempt from this rule, so I called RMA and here’s what I was told.  Can anyone verify this to be accurate?

I called RMA and they told me it is CSD’s jurisdiction, so I called CSD.  CSD told me that it was RMA's jurisdiction.  After telling them that I found it interesting that they were watering 48 hours after it had rained, they transferred me to Mr. Ron Greenfield, the Utilities Supervisor.  When I asked Mr. Greenfield for a straight answer, he told me that he'd have to call me back.  After a few hours he called me and said, "CSD has granted RMA a watering variance for 3 times a day for 10 minutes each."

So, my question is does CSD have the authority to trump the state regulation?  Just curious.  It's a frustrating situation to watch them water 'new' unnecessary landscaping.  I also wonder if any of the residents of RM would be granted a variance to save their landscaping.

Mary Brennan's picture
Joined: 03/01/2008
Posts: 34
water shortage

Just to add information.  All new houses here will have to be equipped with "purple pipe" to use recycled water for their yards.  That holds true for the hotel, shoppng center, etc.  The lakes here were planned for full buildout--which was to be 5200 homes.  That number has been reduced to around 3700, which will take years more to reach,  The Consumnes River provides water to a dam from which we draw water from November to May to fill our lakes.   We could use a new storage lake which we could fill with our water rights.  Thus providing adequate water for our full use.

No question, the plantings around the new gate have opened up valid points regarding water use.  They are using a lot of bark and hopefully plants that need less water.   I think they might have forgotten that "appearance" is important with our obvious state wide drought.

I think we will all be proud of the new gate.   We have waited many years for it.  As have we for the new houses which will provide needed funds to maintain our roads, lakes, and parks.   And a much broader base for the Country Club to draw from.

 

 

John Merchant's picture
Joined: 08/30/2007
Posts: 122
I have asked CSD at several

I have asked CSD at several meetings to make a presentation to the community similar to those we made back in 2005 that discuss how the system operates now and how it will operate in conjunction with new development. This discussion should address current water resource capacity, demands at various stages of new development and the use of ground water to supplement new development during critical water shortages. I think it is important that CSD be on the record in on all these important topics. There is an Integrated Water Master Plan (I have read it) that guides the District on these issues. I think a presentation by our board president and general manager is a much more effective way to communicate this information and it would go a long way toward clearing up a lot of confusion.  CSD ihas discussed doing this  I hope it happens soon.

It probably would not hurt for the developer to get out in front of the community as well but don't hold your breath on that one.

Conservation of water is here to stay. That is going to require some vision and effective communication with the entire community (RMCC/RMA/CSD/MTI/Villages/Villas) to be sure everyone is on the same page. It does not make sense in the long term to pull out lawns and then open the landscaping flood gates the year it starts to rain again. I am willing to make landscaping adjustments but if I pull out my lawn, I am not going to be happy if my neighbor plants a brand new lawn. CSD is our only unifying agency in this community that governs everyone and they are our primary point of contact with the Caifornia regulatory agencies. Some leadership will be required here. I also believe we must re-evaluate the use of groundwater in this community to support ANY new development. Perhaps this is the new line in the sand for the amount of development that should occur. If we cannot find more storage for top flow (river) water, then perhaps we should stop building at the point where are reserviors cannot support us in times of severe drought. Our developer, I am sure, does not agree. 

Finally, it may be time to have a discussion on community conscience.  We are very lucky.  Our water does NOT come out of the ground and for now, we have a very consistent and adequate supply.   As a communtiy, do we want to use as much water as we want, just because we have it? Do we put new residents on micro-irrigation while the rest of the community waters at will? If we are willing to pay are we entitiled to use what we want? I don't see how you can approach long term conservation without this kind of community discussion.  Consensus will be difficult but that is no reason to hide from the elephant in the room.

Bob Tauber's picture
Joined: 08/22/2014
Posts: 36
Let's ask questions and listen to answers

I cannot agree more with some of the comments here but not all.  I think the developers are entitled to a return on their investments, and I think our limited water needs to be conserved.  It appears foolish to be telling residents we have too little water you have to let lawns die while saying we have water for 1,500 new home a hotel and retail expansion.  You cannot have it both ways here.  Either we have water and these restrictions are just for window dressing or we do not have water and  development needs to be reexamined.

There appears to be room for yet another reservoir, but can anyone assure us that the State will continue to allow us to draw water from the river to fill another reservoir.  The State may or may not alow us to maintain these reservoir as the are now. The State evaluating all the water rights in the State currently and may make future changes bassed on Current useage.

I think the CSD Board is doing the right thing in holding four meetings on the subject in the next few weeks.  If you are interested and concerned attend and let’s see what is said by those who should know some answers and those pubic officials we have elected to protect our interest.

Marklin Brown's picture
Joined: 08/12/2007
Posts: 196
Moratorium

Mr. Chambers has said it well and I would have added my vote sooner if I would have read it. The developers need to find the path to an economical halt until the crisis is resolved. They could have seen this coming and they will suffer with us if the Governor places the mandatory moratorium on high water demand construction such as homes, hotels, theme parks. The water was an issue before the drought in any case.

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