Residents, Agencies Grapple with Current Drought

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In the middle of some of the driest recorded months in California history, Mariposa County officials and organizations have implemented several water conservation guidelines and resources for residents as they struggle with the current drought.

One important resource for the town of Mariposa is the Stockton Creek Reservoir. Owned and operated by the Mariposa Public Utility District (MPUD), the reservoir stores surface water that is then available for distribution to the district. Additionally, MPUD has four ground water wells that are connected to the distribution system.

This information was provided by Susan Wages, the general manager of the MPUD. She also explained, “In the event of low run-off in the Stockton Creek watershed, the district may divert water from the Saxon Creek Water Project to the Stockton Creek Reservoir. As of today, water from the Stockton Creek watershed continues to drain into the reservoir.”

In a clear statement from Wages, she informed that, “The District (MPUD) is prepared to meet the water needs of the town of Mariposa.” However, she also noted that, “Customers are urged to continue to conserve water by implementing common sense measures into their everyday actions.”

Merced River water levels appear lower than years past. (Photo by Joanna Ransom Photography.)

Wages further explained important ways residents can avoid wasteful water use, including, “The use of potable water for washing sidewalks, driveways, buildings, or other hard surfaced areas, except in cases where health and safety are at risk; The use of potable water that results in flooding or runoff in gutters or streets; The use of potable water, except with the use of a positive shut-off nozzle, for the individual private washing of motor vehicles; [and] the use of water to irrigate turf and ornamental landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall.”

In fact, Governor Gavin Newsom just put in place a new executive order that implemented similar water saving measures. Newsom stated, he is, “having the Water Board evaluate a ban on watering ornamental grass on commercial properties, which will drive water use savings at this critical time.”

Dave Conway, director of the Environmental Health Unit for the Mariposa County, explained that “primarily this executive order will affect properties that pump 1,785 gallons per day.” The average residential property only pumps 300 to 400 gallons per day at the high end, so our area will mostly be unaffected by this order. Conway also had some advice for Mariposa County on water waste. He said, “Most water waste occurs with landscaping, so looking for ways to save there is a good start. Using drip irrigation instead of sprinklers is a good start.”

Conway also emphasized one major resource available for Mariposa residents is the Self-Help Enterprises Drought Support Program, which can provide financial assistance and contract well-drilling and water transportation services. The program can be reached at 559-802-1685 or email for assistance.

Heath Harris, of Yosemite Falls Well Drilling, is one of the major contractors that Self-Help Enterprises works with, and was able to get his input on the whole situation. In regard to the program itself, at the end of last year Harris had redceived at least six contracts from the program and said that, “I think the self-help program is great, it helps people get all the equipment and service they need. When you add up the cost of drilling, which alone is anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, and all the new equipment like pumps and storage tanks, you’re looking at around $30,000.” Thankfully, as found on their website, Self-Help Enterprises provides, “qualified homeowners access [to] low-interest loans to drill a new private well, deepen an existing private well or lower a pump in an existing well.”

When asked about how his business has been affected by the ongoing drought, Harris explained that he has seen an uptick in these beginning months of the year when in years past most of his services are needed between August and October. He said, “There’s very little water. Rain and snowfall is low. It’s all very concerning.”

He also mentioned that the support program contracts Bezak Liquid Transport to get water to people’s homes, which also has likely seen an increase in demand in these early dry months of the year.

Ben Youngren, a member of the team at Bezak, explained to that, “as a private company, we provide potable water for large contract jobs, as well as individual customers. Our drivers work diligently to provide high-quality service to clients in multiple counties, and we are confident that we can continue to meet the demand for deliveries, despite rising fuel and equipment costs.”

With more dry months ahead and California’s ongoing drought looming over Mariposa County there is a great support system of guidelines and resources in place for those in need. Also, consider reading up on some important water conservation tips on: and

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  1. Sterling says

    Very informative. Thank you!

  2. Via Corcoran says

    Very informative and helpful information as I have friends who have a resort in Yosemite. I will pass on this valuable information