Press "Enter" to skip to content

Everybody’s Broke

(Jayma here on behalf of my dad. He had a positive visit with a pulmonologist this week- great news! Dad's column this week, ‘Everybody's Broke,’ particularly hits home in my line of work. I can confirm that more Laytonville families and residents are struggling; our Food Bank has tripled in numbers served since December 2020 when my organization took it on. It's rough out there for many.)

I’m gradually returning to work at both the Observer and the Water District. I don’t put in anything close to full days at either place, but incrementally my stamina and strength is bit by bit increasing. I never thought I’d get exhausted sitting at a keyboard at the newspaper. I mean I’d get a little tired doing outdoor water district work before this lung malady struck, but I’ve always been in top physical condition, so I was always fine. Believe me this is a brand-new experience for me.

Quick Weather Report

Good news all the way around if you want to talk water. Here in the Laytonville area things couldn’t be better as we near the end of the precipitation year on June 30. This past week .89 inches of rain fell to lift the season total to 61.13 inches. Total precip for last year was 63.36 inches. The historical annual rainfall average is 66.69 inches, so we are in fabulous shape. Our Long Valley aquifer, which is the source of the Laytonville Water District’s drinking water, was recharged several months ago.

Last week the Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the all-important April snow survey, the fourth measurement of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 64 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 27.5 inches, which is 113 percent of average for this location. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast. The April measurement is critical for water managers as it’s considered the peak snowpack for the season and marks the transition to spring snowmelt into the state’s rivers and reservoirs. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations placed throughout the state indicate that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 28.6 inches, or 110 percent of the April 1 average, a significant improvement from just 28 percent of average on January 1.

The focus now shifts to forecasting spring snowmelt runoff and capturing as much of that water as possible for future use.

According to DWR, on average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs. Its natural ability to store water is why the Sierra snowpack is often referred to as California’s “frozen reservoir.” Data from these snow surveys and forecasts produced by DWR’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit are important factors in determining how DWR provides water to two-thirds (27 million) of Californians. 

* * *

County Still Broke

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting (April 9), the main topic was the budget. The Board was briefed by the County Executive Office to report.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde asked CEO Darcy Antle if it was “remotely possible the budget we adopt in June can possibly be balanced?” Antle’s terse reply said it all: “Preliminary, right now, no. Your revenues are way short of expenditures … Preliminary look at our revenues are about $10 million short and short $3 million from last year. So we’re already starting in the hole from our revenues.”

* * *

Laytonville Water District Broke Too

I can also say the same thing about our Water District’s finances. Through no fault of our own, we’ve lost about one-third of our revenues because of the County’s complete bungling and nearly criminal mishandling of the utterly failed, unworkable Cannabis Ordinance.

One-third of our revenues were derived from the sale of water to folks who lived outside district boundaries. Those funds subsidized our residential and commercial water rates in the water district. That’s why our customers have not experienced a rate increase in over a decade. Laytonville Water District voters will very soon be asked to approve a water rate increase, as we are out of money, and out of options.

One Comment

  1. Mike Geniella April 19, 2024

    Good to hear your health is improving, Jim. Your insights are always valuable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *