Drought 2015

                Updated June 26, 2016
Daily Current Drought Update
Supply vs. Demand

The Reservoir Graph (below) provides a daily look at Ashland's water supply. The red line represents the reservoir use rate (theoretically) necessary to adequately meet Ashland's water supply needs. The blue line represents the current reservoir level.

If at any point the blue line drops below the red line, our use is outpacing our supply. 

The City continues to ask residents to use water wisely, as weather conditions remain extremely dry. ​

The information below relates to drought conditions and water use in 2015

Voluntary Water Curtailment
June 25, 2015 - Press Release

The lack of snow pack has Ashland facing drought conditions again this year and as a result the City is asking Ashland residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use in order to reduce water demand (or the amount of water consumed) down to 4.5 to 5 million gallons per day (mgd).  However, if our community’s voluntary efforts are not enough to stay between our water use goals then mandatory restrictions could be necessary.
The good news is that even with recent warm weather, water use has stayed at the 4.5 to 5mgd goal, so the City is asking you to continue that good work especially with the upcoming consecutive days of over 100 degree temperatures and throughout the rest of the summer.
Reducing the demand is important because when the amount of water consumed by Ashland water users exceeds the amount of water flowing into the City’s Reeder Reservoir from the East and West Forks of Ashland Creek, other water supply options must be used.  If unchecked, decreasing reservoir levels, even if supplemented with Talent Irrigation District water, could lead to severe late-summer water shortages.
Mike Faught, public works director, says “The City will keep the reservoir full for as long as possible by first adding up to 2 mgd Talent Irrigation District (TID) water; and if the combination of Ashland Creek flows and TID flows fail to keep the reservoir full, then Talent Ashland Phoenix (TAP) water will be used.”
Julie Smitherman, water conservation specialist, says “even small changes can make a huge impact; we all need to be conscious of our water use and reduce wherever we can.”  Here are some great water conservation tips:
Tips for Conserving Water in the Landscape: 
  • Prioritize your watering needs by watering trees first then shrubs and flowers and then lawn. 
  • It is best not to water every day.  Less frequent, deep sprinkling will encourage deeper root growth and plants won’t become stressed as quickly when the weather is hot. 
  • Let the soil dry between watering.  Roots will grow deeper looking for water below the surface as soil dries.
  • Check soil moisture before watering by using a soil moisture meter.
  • If you have a dry spot in your landscape, water it manually with a hose or watering can instead of running your irrigation system longer.
  • Add mulch to your garden beds to lock in moisture and minimize evaporation.
  • Adjust sprinkler timers throughout the summer to account for current weather conditions. Doing this can significantly reduce the amount of water consumed. 
  • Check your sprinkler system for leaks and adjust sprinklers to only water plants, not pavement.
  • Water between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. to avoid losing water to wind and evaporation. 
  • Replace nonfunctional lawn areas with drought tolerant plants.
Tips for Conserving Water Indoors: 
  • Fix leaks promptly.  Even a small faucet drip can waste several gallons of water each day.
  • Avoid letting the water run when rinsing vegetables, cleaning dishes or defrosting food.
  • Wait until you have a full load of dishes before running your dishwasher.
  • When washing clothes, adjust the water level to fit the size of the load.
  • Take shorter showers and/or replace your old showerhead with a newer more efficient model. 
  • Avoid using the toilet as a wastebasket.
  • Replace older toilets with new WaterSense labeled models and save 20-75% each time you flush.
The City’s water conservation division offers a variety of water conservation programs, incentives and tips, as well as free irrigation system evaluations, free low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators soil moisture meters and other tools for residents and businesses.  You can pick these free items up at the Community Development building located at 51 Winburn Way.  Learn more about water conservation programs at www.ashland.or.us/conserve  and water-wise landscaping at www.ashlandsaveswater.org.
For more current drought information visit the City’s website at www.ashland.or.us/drought2015.

June 2, 2015 -  Update

While the current snow pack is zero, Ashland Creek flows are running 3.5 to 4 million gallons per day (mgd) higher than last year at the same time.  Staff continues to prepare for the 2015 drought. Staff will maintain a full reservoir for as long as possible by adding Talent Irrigation District (TID) and Talent, Ashland and Phoenix (TAP) water as needed. The community will be asked to reduce its water use to 4.5 mgd. The Water Conservation division will assist customers with ways to reduce water use, and as a last resort, the City will implement the water waste and curtailment steps as outlined in the municipal code.

As a reminder, the plan of action is as follows:
  1. Ashland residents to voluntarily reduce water usage to 4.5 mgd;
  2. Keep Reeder Reservoir full (see ‘2015 Drawdown Curve’ graph) for as long as possible;
  3. Add TID (up to 2 mgd) when Ashland Creek flows no longer keep Reeder Reservoir full;
  4. Add TAP when both Ashland Creek flow and TID water are not sufficient enough to keep Reeder Reservoir full (staff will be prepared to start using TAP water by August 15th).

Frequently Asked Questions

No.  Fire prone landscaping such as juniper, cypress, arbovitae and other conifers, are not recommended near homes and should be removed or meet Firewise landscaping clearance standards found at ashlandfirewise.org.
Ashland watershed water flows into Reeder Reservoir before it is sent to the treatment plant.  Reeder Reservoir is located south of town where the East and West forks of Ashland Creek meet.
1.) When there is not enough water in the watershed to supply Ashland with all the water necessary, water from the TID watershed can be used to supplement Ashland's water. 

2.) In addition, during emergencies (drought, wildfires, floods, etc.) 2.13 MGD is available from Medford through the new TAP line. 
It is possible that later in the season more TID users will be shut off from the system if it looks like our available water supply will no be enough to get us through the summer.
For a quick guide to water conservation tips and tricks click here.
Fireworks are already banned within the City limits of Ashland.  There is nothing else to ban that is not already addressed in the current ordinance.
Enforcement of the fireworks ban is a law enforcement responsibility through the Police Department.  Please call 911 to report firework use in the City limits of Ashland.
Call the Firewise Community Coordinator at Ashland Fire and Rescue at 541-552-2231.
Ashland Fire & Rescue engages in many efforts each year to reduce the chance of fire, and the potential impact of fire on the community.
  • Citizens can participate in the Firewise Communities program to create neighborhoods prepared for wildfire.
  • The Fire Department is part of the regional Rogue Valley Fire Prevention Co-op that provides public education on fire prevention each and every year including signs and education in schools.
  • Ashland Fire & Rescue has an active fire prevention program in the Ashland Public Schools.
  • A watershed patrol deputy spends 16 hours per week dedicated to forested areas in and around the Ashland Watershed to discourage activities that could lead to fires.  The US Forest Service also has an officer who patrols the watershed.
  • Ongoing thinning on City, US Forest Service and private lands reduce the potential for a severe fire in and next to town and our municipal watershed.
  • The City's weed abatement program, through the Fire Department, requires that all dry grass be cut each year to reduce fire potential.
Public education efforts will increase as the fire season progresses and in response to the measured indices of fire danger.  This is in addition to the standard prohibitions on known fire causing activities that are regulated by the City and Oregon Department of Forestry each summer.

Fire Department: 541- 488-6300
Firewise Coordinator: 541- 552-=2231 
Your meter is read every month to determine how much water was used.
Yes, but remember that the number on the meter reads is in cubic feet, not gallons.
Comparing the reading on your meter from one time to another will tell you how much water you have used during that period of time.  To convert the cubic feet into gallons, multiply the number of cubic feet by 7.48.  The result will be the number of gallons used.  For examples 100 cubic feet of water used is equal to 748 gallons.
No.  Anyone who thinks they should be exempt needs to apply for the exemption through the City of Ashland Utility Office.

Weed abatement will be very important to minimize fire danger. For information about weed abatement contact Ashland Fire & Rescue at 541-488-5300.
Watering can be minimized and still meet firewise guidelines.  For more information click Firewise Landscaping or call 541-552-2231.
The water available during curtailment is based on how much water each water customer can have for their own health and sanitation purposes.  The reason for going into curtailment is to ensure that we have enough water to meet those needs through the dry time of the year.  The water allotment is not based on the size of your house or yard.  
The water available this year is very limited and the water we do have will need to be used for health and sanitation purposes first, which may not leave us with enough to water our yards and gardens.
No.  The City has no way of knowing how many people may be staying at any one location, so the amount of water allowed is cased on the meter size not the number of people in the house.
Curtailment affects the City in a number of ways.  Each department within the City uses water in a different way and each of those departments will be cutting back on their water use.  Some tasks requiring water will be delayed until fall, others will be reduced to the minimum amount required until fall.  Street sweeping for example, will be cut back to two days per week rather than the usual five.  The street sweeper will also be using reclaimed water rather than the usual potable water.

Water curtailment also severely reduces water revenue.  Ashland residents are very good about reducing their water use when asked to do so, this means water bills are lower than a normal year, meaning the City brings in less money than before.  This will require cutbacks in the future within the water fund to offset the reduced water revenue.
TID is the acronym for the Talent Irrigation District.  Their offices are located in Talent.  You can get more information about TID at their website.  Click here. 
TID supples water through irrigation ditches to large areas of southern Jackson County.  The water is primarily used for irrigation but can also be redirected to Ashland's water treatment plant where it is treated and sent to town as potable water.
TID water is stored in Howard Prairie Lake and Hyatt Lake before it is sent into the irrigation ditch system.
Their phone number is (541) 535-1529.
For several months City staff has been monitoring the water situation to determine what is necessary.  The snowpack is the lowest we've seen for this time of year so the concern is that we will not have enough water to last all summer without adding TID. 
The snowpack this year is so low that we're concerned we may not have enough water to make it through summer.  Because of this, we'll be pumping as much TID water as possible to the water treatment plant.  In the past years we did not need to pump as large of a volume of water as we will be pumping this year.  Pumping the maximum amount of water that we can does not leave enough water in the TID ditch or other uses.
If TID is left untreated then no, it is not safe to drink.  Once TID water is pumped up to our water treatment plant where it goes through the same process as all our drinking water it is safe to drink. 
In past years we did not need to pump as large of a volume of TID water to the treatment plant as we will be pumping this year.  Pumping the maximum amount of water that we can does not leave enough water in the TID ditch beyond the pump station for other uses.  People with access to TID in advance of the pump station will have access to TID, those households with access to the TID after the pump station will not have access.
Most of the time, Ashland's water supply comes from the Ashland watershed.  The watershed is located south of Ashland and extends up to the peak of Mt. Ashland.

Ashland watershed water flows into Reeder Reservoir from the East and West forks of Ashland Creek.  Water is stored in Reeder before it is sent to the water treatment plant.

No.  On occasion tours can be scheduled, typically as part of a school group but prior arrangements must be made with the City.
No.  When Ashland watershed water is being supplemented with TID water, the TID water is added directly to the intake of the water treatment plant.  The two sources of water are blended at that location before it is treated at the water treatment plant.
As temperatures go up, water use in town goes up.  Our water use in the winter is less than two million gallons per day, in the summer our usage goes up to as high as seven million gallons per day.
The snow holds water in the watershed until it melts. The snow itself is almost like having an additional reservoir.  If all the snow melts early in the season when the reservoir is full, it just goes down the creek, we have no way of containing it if Reeder Reservoir is already full. 
This year's snowpack is the lowest since the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Center began measuring in the 1930's. As of May 9th the snow at the top of Mt. Ashland is less than 10 inches.  

It is not uncommon to have more than sixty inches of snow on Mt. Ashland at this time of year.
The rain helps to reduce the need to use water for irrigation in town.  This helps to conserve the water supply we currently have stored.  However, the rain does not help much with our long term storage.  When the water reservoir is full the rain in the watershed simply flows down Ashland Creek. 
The treatment plant is located above Lithia Park in the Ashland Watershed next to Ashland Creek and below Reeder Reservoir. 
No.  Ashland does not, and never has, added fluoride to drinking water.
Yes.  Chlorine is an essential part of the treatment process, it is used to disinfect the water. Chlorine levels are continually monitored to maintain compliance with Oregon Health Authority requirements. 
No.  Chloramines are not part of the treatment process used at the Ashland Water Treatment Plant.
Please call (541) 488-5345. 
The latest Consumer Confidence Report is available on the City's website at the Ashland Public Library, City Hall and the Community Development Building.

2013 Ashland Water Quality Report
The water distribution system moves the water from the treatment plant to the water users.  The system includes underground pipes, storage reservoirs, pumps, valves, pressure control devices and meters.  This is the system that delivers water to your house.
Your water use is measured by your water meter.  Comparing the reading on your meter from one time to another will tell you how much water you have used during that period of time.
Typically your meter is in front of your house near the street.  If you are not sure where your meter is located or if the meter you are reading is yours, you can request that someone from the City verify that the meter you are looking at is actually yours! Call the City of Ashland Utility Billing at (541) 488-6004.
Your meter has a counter on top that displays your total water use.  Write down that reading and compare it to a reading taken at a later time.  The difference between those two numbers will be your total water usage for that period of time.
The water meter measures water used in cubic feet not gallons of water.  Multiply the cubic feet by 7.48 to determine the number of gallons of water used.  For example: 100 cubic feet of water is equal to 748 gallons of water used.
Cloudy water can be caused by a variety of sources.  It could be something in the plumbing of your residence or it can be caused by something in the distribution system.  Try running your water for a couple of minutes, typically this will clear out the cloudy water.  If after a few minutes your water still looks cloudy, please contact the Water Department at (541) 488-5353.
If the water use is accidental, such as a broken sprinkler, your neighbor may appreciate you letting them know.  Water use is not restricted until mandatory water curtailment is implemented.

The City monitors water customers that use more than their allotted amount of water and notifies them.  You do not need to tell your neighbor that they are using too much water.
TAP is the acronymn for the Talent Ashland Phoenix water intertie.
The purpose of the TAP water intertie is to bring an additional source of water to Ashland to be used in an emergency.
Many factors have to be considered including water availability from all sources including Reeder Reservoir and TID, weather, how much longer will it be until we expect a change in the weather, how has Ashland responded to curtailment and do we expect water use to increase or decrease.  All these factors will be considered to determine if the water situation is an emergency.
The TAP line will connect the Ashland water distribution system with the Medford water system. Medford gets the water form two possible sources: either the Rogue River or Big Butte Springs.
Medford is not supplying Ashland with its own water.  Ashland has water rights to water stored in Lost Creek Lake and Ashland is exercising its rights to access that water.  The water is treated at the Medford water treatment plant.

The amount of water we get via TAP will depend on the water we need. If conditions change, it's possible we will not use any water via TAP.  However, if conditions continue to be much drier that normal, the City of Ashland has water rights for up to 1,000 acre feet of water via TAP.  1,000 acre feet is approximately 325 million gallons.
For the past several years, Ashland has consistently used between 900 million and 1 billion gallons of water per year.
TAP is an emergency source of water, not a replacement source of water.  Even with TAP, we will still need to be careful with the water we have.  The decision to continue with curtailment will be made when the TAP system is operational.
The City is obligated by law to put 1 million gallons of water in Ashland Creek. 
For water related conservation information, contact the Conservation Division at (541) 488-5306.
The City's website has a complete list of programs available to assist customers in being as efficient as possible with their water.  This includes new toilet and appliance rebates, free shower heads and faucet aerators, soil moisture content readers, and other general tips and tricks for being smart with water.  

Click here to read about conservation programs.
The Conservation Division has developed a website that is customized for the local climate and contains photos and plant information for a variety of landscape and garden types, including native species, fire and deer safe plants and more.  

Click here to visit the Water Wise Landscape website.
Yes, the City maintains a local weather station for its use and has also made it available to the public.  

Click here to view the data.
Indoor water use varies from house to house and usually depends on the number of people living at the residence.  Below is an estimate of average indoor water use for a family of four.

Toilets: 30 - 60 gallons per day
Showers: 60 - 100 gallons per day
Clothes Washers: 20 - 50 gallons per day
Kitchen/Bathroom Faucets: 30 - 80 gallons per day

The variations in consumption vary greatly based on the age and model of the equipment being used.  For a more precise calculation of your indoor water use, see www.ashland.or.us/conserve.

For a quick guide to water conservation tips and tricks, go to www.ashland.or.us/watertips.
Yes.  Firewise landscaping practices are often in line with Waterwise recommendations.
No.  Firewise landscaping recommends keeping grass short, not green, to prevent rapid fire spread near homes.  Maintaining all grass and weeks to 4 inches or less minimizes flame length and spread and makes fire suppression easier and safer for firefighters.
Within 10 feet of a home, fire-resistant vegetation, including deciduous shrubs and trees, should be free of all dead material and in healthy condition.

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