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As I write this column the Tri-Valley is basking in record-breaking high temperatures and it feels far more like spring than winter. Skiers -- and ski resorts -- are loudly grumbling because warm, dry conditions do not a great ski and boarding season make.

Meantime, the "D" word is being spoken out loud in Sacramento and elsewhere. In this case "D" is not for Democrat, but rather for drought.

The governor's declaration of a drought emergency on Friday was expected. Bert Michalczyk, general manager of the Dublin San Ramon Services District, called it "basically a foregone conclusion."

The reality is that six of the past seven years have been dry or below normal. But despite that, the state has seen enough snowpack and rainfall to avoid any kind of mandatory cutbacks. And, said Michalczyk, even if Gov. Brown offers up a suggested target for water cutbacks it doesn't mean that DSRSD is going to automatically implement any water shortage changes right away.

"It probably won't be until the April/May time frame before making any real decisions. The way it works in California is that a couple of big storms in February or March can really turn things around."


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Plus, said Michalczyk, DSRSD has local water resources available, including recycled water and a "great deal" of water stored underground. This does not mean that people shouldn't be taking steps to get ahead of the issue and conserve water. One of the quickerst ways to cutback use is the use of water for landscaping, which represents nearly 60 percent of the water use in our area. Even though it's been dry, plants, shrubs and grass still require less water during the winter months. Residents who currently have their timers set for 15 minutes a day, for example, can easily cut back to a few times a week and make a difference. The water district has information on conservation and a potential drought on their website at www.dsrd.com.

By the way, should water restrictions be necessary at some point and you do your part to cut back on usage, don't expect to see much of a drop -- if any -- in your water bills. Because approximately 80 percent of DSRSD's budget is based on fixed costs, they'll need to raise the per-unit cost of water to help ensure they balance the budget. So, perhaps the best advice comes from Michalczyk: "Pray for rain."

Paws in Need: While it's not raining cats and dogs, the large number of animals in need of a home remains a big issue.

Local nonprofit Paws in Need has been ramping up to help provide important services, including spaying and neutering and assistance for veterinary medical needs to help prevent the euthanizing of animals in the area. To help the cause, Paws in Need is holding a Valentine Crab Feed dinner and auction Feb. 8 at Shannon Center (11600 Shannon Avenue) in Dublin. Tickets are $53 online at www.paws-in-need.org.

Dublin Crush: Feeling creative and artistic? Love to write, and love the City of Dublin or someone who lives here? Then the new Dublin Crush project is perfect for you.

"I hope to see Dublin's creative side! I hope we receive a diverse mix of entries from purely written word (poetry, prose) to those that are a bit more illustrative in expression," says Heritage and Cultural Arts Manager Ann Mottola.

The Crush project is not a writing competition, but rather an "exhibit" of written works that can include photos or drawings all to help stimulate and celebrate literary arts. All of the entries that meet the guidelines will be put on exhibit at the Dublin Heritage Park and Museums from Feb. 9 to March 2. Find out more on the city's website at www.dublin.ca.gov. The deadline is Feb. 3.

Contact Alan Elias at elias2000@sbcglobal.net.