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Coming Soon: Water Rationing

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Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard urges residents to use low-flow shower heads and other implements to save water during the drought. Photo: J.D. Hillard / KUSP

Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard urges residents to use low-flow shower heads and other implements to save water during the drought. Photo: J.D. Hillard / KUSP

By J.D. Hillard | KUSP News

You probably knew it was coming: Since it became clear we haven’t been having a normal winter, water managers around he Monterey Bay have been considering how to reduce demand. Santa Cruz was the first to announce penalties for using more than a certain amount. The measure takes effect in May. The newly appointed water director said that timeline allows the agency to adjust the restrictions if conditions change.

The fines take effect when a household uses more than 10 ccf in a month – that works out to about 60 gallons per person per day for a four person household. Menard says this shouldn’t be too disruptive indoors.

“So that’s showers, it’s laundry, it’s dishwashers. It’s cooking. It’s flushing the toilets,” she says. “And right now that’s a number that’s pretty close to what people are using.”

What the allotment wouldn’t allow for is much if any water system water for landscaping

“The ability to irrigate your lawn your garden your shrubs and trees is going to be severely limited.”

Rosemary Menard assumes her role at a time when the natural inputs to the water system are faring slightly worse than they did in the drought of 1976-77. She notes that the district has done a better job shepherding a reserve than it did prior to that event. That’s an approach she says she’ll continue.

“We’re taking a very conservative stance on what needs to be in the reservoir at the end of the dry season in the event that we need to have storage going into another dry year.”

The restrictions go as far as they can without taking much economic toll. De La Veaga golf course is reducing its usage, only watering greens, but it will continue using the water supply. Meanwhile, the privately-owned Pasatiempo golf course may be supplied with recycled water.

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