Good news about water consumption and future resources abounded throughout the June 17 Idyllwild Water District meeting.

Board Vice President John Cook complimented the customers for reducing average usage, nearly one-third from 192 gallons-per-minute production to 130 gpm this month. This water saving was achieved in just two years, since 2013.

“The production figures show residents are very conscious of the water problems,” Cook added. Most of this decline comes from compliance from residential users, according to General Manager Tom Lynch. Residential use has fallen 12.5 percent while commercial water consumption has slightly increased.

“This is probably because of the recent economic recovery and a few additional businesses,” he explained.

Idyllwild Water is still in a Stage 2 water emergency and the danger of going to Stage 3 is less right now, according to Lynch, who stated, “… the storms last month helped keep well [levels] above the trigger points,” he told the board.

Nevertheless, he recommended that the board adopt a resolution limiting outdoor irrigation to two days a week, which it did 4-0-1. Director Cook abstained from voting. This was one of two options the State Water Resources Control Board gave small districts. The other was a 25-percent usage reduction from 2013.

“Not much of a choice, unless residents double their reduction. Statewide, we’re at the low end of the average use per customer,” Cook said.

Lynch stated that even-numbered street addresses should water or irrigate on Wednesdays and Saturdays and odd-numbered street addresses on Thursdays and Sundays. All outdoor irrigation would be limited to between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the permitted days.

During his operations report, Lynch reported that the state has approved the IWD’s request to reconnect the long inactive horizontal wells above Foster Lake to its distribution system. He estimated that these wells would contribute about 10 percent of current demand.

Lynch also has requested grant funding to rehabilitate three vertical wells in the same area.

When asked why the district was not investigating drilling new wells, Lynch replied that rehabilitating existing, but old, wells is more efficient. The district knows that some production can be garnered from improving these wells, which avoids the risk of drilling a dry hole.

“New wells are more expensive,” he said. “Rehabbing old wells is the frugal approach.”

Director Warren Monroe added, “Searching for new water has no guarantee of success.” He mentioned that the district drilled a well a few years ago and its flow was only 3 to 5 gallons per minute, too low to add the well to the district’s inventory.

In May, the district’s water production was 6.2 million gallons, a decrease of slightly more than 1.9 million gallons from the May 2014 level of 8.2 million gallons. This month was about 3.4 million gallons less than two years ago.

The usage for the first five months of the year declined about 1.4 million gallons from the same period in 2014 and is nearly 20 percent less than the January through May period in 2013.