OUR WATER SUPPLY
Most of Petaluma’s water is imported from the Russian River system, supplied by Sonoma Water. To supplement the imported water supply during water shortage periods and during peak summer demands, Petaluma utilizes local municipal groundwater wells. To learn more about Sonoma Water’s water supply and current conditions, click here.
To conserve water and reduce current and future demands for potable water, the City provides recycled water to irrigate urban parks, schools, and public and private landscapes that historically used drinking water for irrigation. Additionally, the City has a robust water conservation program to help our residents and commercial customers conserve water. Click here to learn more.
As shown in this graph, the population (red line) has increased over time while citywide water use has decreased. Improved indoor and outdoor water use efficiency has allowed us to serve more people with less water than we have historically. To ensure this is the case for many years to come, and under varying water supply conditions, the City is working to expand our local water supplies which you will learn about below.
OUR WATER PLAN
In compliance with the California Water Code, the City updates and adopts its Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) and submits it to the Department of Water Resources every 5 years. The UWMP looks at water supply and demand over a 20 year planning horizon, and provides information about the City's water supply sources, current and projected population, historical and projected water use, and water supply projections for drought conditions, like those we are experiencing now.
As part of the UWMP, the City is required to prepare an updated Water Shortage Contingency Plan (Shortage Plan) every five years. The Shortage Plan defines water shortage levels and identifies corresponding actions the City implements to reduce demand under mild to severe water shortage conditions. We are currently in Stage 4 of the Shortage Plan, designed to reduce our City’s water use by 30% through mandatory restrictions.
The City’s 2020 UWMP was adopted by City Council on June 7, 2021 and the Amended 2020 Shortage Plan was adopted by City Council on August 1, 2022.
MAKING THE MOST OF OUR WATER
The below programs are in progress to help build the City’s water resiliency, added assurance that we have access to water. This is especially helpful in times of emergency like drought, earthquake, and fires.
Expand Municipal Groundwater Wells - We are developing new wells throughout the city to take advantage of Petaluma’s existing groundwater supply. This will ensure that water is available throughout the city during times of emergency.
Recycled Water Program Expansion - We are expanding our urban recycled water pipeline to offset potable water use. We are also currently updating our Recycled Water Master Plan which will explore and identify all reuse options.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Plan - We are looking at the feasibility of taking surplus drinking water from the Russian River system during wet winter years and storing it in an underground aquifer in the Petaluma groundwater basin. The stored water would then be available as an emergency backup supply. This is also known as groundwater banking.
Building codes require indoor and outdoor water use efficiency. Permitted projects with landscaping must meet local and state water use efficiency requirements. During severe water shortages, the City may put in place regulations on new development.
Check out the videos below from Sonoma Water which provide excellent background and context on the subject of the Russian River watershed, river flows, and the water supply system upon which we are so dependent.