Our Water Future

Water Supply

Exploring Opportunities for our Water Future  

To enhance our community’s water supply resiliency, Santa Rosa Water is embarking on a study to identify opportunities to reduce vulnerability to water shortages and enhance long-term supply reliability. Learn what may be possible and provide your input.  As new information becomes available, we’ll update this webpage. 

Through this project, Santa Rosa Water will explore options for increasing the city’s water supply resiliency and reliability. The purpose is to reduce vulnerability to water shortages, particularly shortages due to prolonged droughts which are anticipated to occur with more frequency and severity due to climate change. 

The first step will be to conduct a study to assess the feasibility of potential water supply sources and strategies. Santa Rosa Water will consider a wide range of options, such as desalination, more wells, potable reuse of purified recycled water, interties with local agencies, joint projects with other agencies, surface water, and more. 

Once water supply options have been studied, Santa Rosa Water will develop a long-range Water Supply Alternatives Plan for increasing water supply resiliency moving forward. The Plan will be “adaptive” (have multiple pathways), rather than proscriptive, because regulations, technology, and funding sources will change over time, and the city wishes to be able to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances while increasing water supply resiliency and reliability. Santa Rosa Water anticipates the Plan will be finalized by October 2023. 

 Santa Rosa Water will hold four community workshops to update the public and give the community opportunities to ask questions, make comments, and offer their ideas on the project over the next year. See “Upcoming Meetings” below for more information.

Meetings

Upcoming Meetings

If you’d like to stay current with this project and provide comments in real time, please consider attending an upcoming meeting. 

Date Forum Meeting Materials
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022
5 - 7 p.m.

Community Webinar #1
The project team will present background information, the project purpose and approach, water supply goals, water supply options to be studied, and the criteria and methods for studying the options. Then the community will be invited to ask questions, make comments, and share their ideas.


Zoom Registration Open!
Coming Soon:
• Presentation slides
Thursday, December 15, 2022
1:30 p.m.

Board of Public Utilities
The project team will provide an update on project progress and ask the BPU for input on the water supply goals, water source options to be studied, and the criteria and methods for studying them. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in Dec:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD January 2022
5 - 7 p.m.

Community Webinar #2
The project team will share the final goals, water sources options to be studied, and criteria and methods for studying them. They will also discuss next steps and invite the community to ask questions, make comments, and share their ideas.

Coming in Jan 2022:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD May 2022
5 - 7 p.m.

Community Webinar #3
The project team will share the study results and discuss the assessment of each water supply source. The team will also present a range of potential combinations (portfolios) of water supply options that will help the city achieve its goals. The community will be invited to ask questions, make comments, and share their ideas.

Coming in May 2022:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD June 2023
1:30 p.m.

Board of Public Utilities
The project team will provide an update on project progress and ask the BPU for input on the study results, the assessment of each water supply source, and a range of potential combinations (portfolios) of water supply options that will help the city achieve its goals. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in June 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD August 2023
5 - 7 p.m.

Community Webinar #4
The project team will share the working draft of the Water Supply Alternatives Plan, which will be an adaptive approach to helping the city achieve its water supply goals. The community will be invited to ask questions, make comments, and share their ideas.

Coming in Aug 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD September 2023
1:30 p.m.

Board of Public Utilities
The project team will share the working draft of the Water Supply Alternatives Plan and ask the BPU for input. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in September 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD September 2023 City Council
The project team will share the working draft of the Water Supply Alternatives Plan and ask the City Council for input. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in September 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD October 2023
1:30 p.m.

Board of Public Utilities
The project team will share the final Water Supply Alternatives Plan. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in October 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

TBD, October 2023 City Council
The project team will share the final Water Supply Alternatives Plan. There will also be time for the public to make comments.

Coming in October 2023:
• Participation link
• Presentation slides

Past Meetings 

If you’d like to learn more about the project to date, please consider viewing these meeting recordings and presentation slide decks. 

Date Forum Meeting Materials
Thursday, April 28, 2022 City Council/Board of Public Utilities Liaison Subcommittee
Staff presented the project concept and received input.

Video recording (YouTube)
Thursday, May 19, 2022 Board of Public Utilities
Staff presented the project concept, received input, and requested approval to release a Request for Proposals for consultant assistance.

Video recording (YouTube)
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 Board of Public Utilities
Staff presented an update on the consultant selection process, final scope of work, schedule, and next steps.

Video recording (YouTube)
Water Supply and Use

In average rainfall years, Santa Rosa has sufficient water supply to meet the needs of our growing community out to at least 2045 (projecting a 30% increase in population and accounting for higher density development). For a detailed analysis, please see Santa Rosa’s Urban Water Management Plan. During extended dry periods (such as 2020-2022), Santa Rosa addresses water shortages by implementing its Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Santa Rosa serves over 53,400 water connections, including about 49,000 connections for 175,755 residents and 4,400 connections for thousands of businesses, nonprofits, schools, public facilities, and other institutions. Each year, our community consumes about 5.6 billion gallons of water, which is used by customer of all types and by the city to flush water mains, test hydrants, repair system leaks, and fight fires. On average, the city purchases 93% of its drinking water supply from Sonoma Water (Russian River water) and produces about 7% of its drinking water from city wells. During extended dry periods, Sonoma Water may experience water shortages, which impacts Santa Rosa’s water supply. 

The city also recycles and reuses wastewater from Santa Rosa, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, South Park Sanitation District, and portions of unincorporated Sonoma County. The wastewater goes through four stringent treatment and disinfection steps at the Santa Rosa Regional Water Reuse facility, resulting in high quality recycled water that is safe for irrigation of landscapes, pastures, agricultural crops, vegetable and fruit crops, and for industrial processes and other (non-drinking water) uses. On average, 98% of the recycled water is used each year to irrigate approximately 6,400 acres of agricultural lands and urban landscaping, and for the Geysers Recharge Project to generate clean electricity.

Water Use Efficiency

While the Water Supply Alternatives Plan focuses on developing new water sources, the city recognizes the importance of using existing water resources wisely. With that in mind, Santa Rosa has worked for over 30 years to achieve significant improvements in water use efficiency. As a result, Santa Rosa used 14% less water in 2020 than in 1990, despite a 57% increase in population. On a per capita basis, average water use has decreased by 46% from 1990 to 2020. 

To achieve this, Santa Rosa’s Water Use Efficiency programs begin in 1991 and have been consistently funded and staffed since that time (in wet years and dry). To help water customers improve efficiency, the city offers free technical assistance, workshops, rebates, and incentives. For example, the City has supported the replacement of approximately 56,000 toilets with ultra-efficient low flow toilets and the conversion of over 3.75 million square feet of high-water use turf grass to low water use landscaping. The City has also been an early adopter of building standards, plumbing codes, and landscape requirements to ensure new development meets or exceeds strict State and local water use efficiency standards. 

In addition, the city adopted a Water Waste Ordinance in 1999 to prohibit waste of water due to plumbing leaks on the customer side and due to runoff from landscape irrigation. The city closely monitors its own water distribution system for leaks and makes repairs quickly to prevent waste.

Additional Resources
Contact Us

If you have questions or comments about the Water Supply Alternatives Project, please feel free to contact us.