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 Most of those numbers were derived from well records and river flows and usage rates no longer valid because current conditions have changed so drastically.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.