Coverage of California's looming water problem

Drought Forces Livermore Winemakers to Balance Water Conservation and Health of Vineyards

By Jodi Hernandez
|  Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014  |  Updated 2:10 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez examines how the exteded dry spell is impacting Livermore winemakers.

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez examines how the exteded dry spell is impacting Livermore winemakers.

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District is alerting customers of the drought in a way they hope will make them use less water. It's one of the many ways more people are bracing for the worst in the wake of California Gov. Jerry Brown declaring a drought emergency Friday.

MORE: Gov. Brown Declares Drought Emergency for California

The extended dry spell has the soil in Livermore's vineyards bone dry. Though the vineyards are dormant this time of year, they still rely on rainwater to keep their roots moist.

"If we weren't able to put some water on right now the health of the vines would really struggle this coming year," said Brent Amos of Las Positas Vineyards.

Winemakers are taking the unusual step of watering their vines, balancing the call for conservation with the need to keep their vineyards healthy.

"The water we use we pay for also going to have lower yields so fewer grapes on the vine so that of course is going to cost us money," Amos said.

With the governor's call to conserve 20 percent, East Bay MUD said it plans to expand on a program that alerts customers how their water usage stacks up to their neighbors. They said everyone can scale back, from looking for leaks in the toilet, to not leaving the faucet running too long.

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