Contra Costa to decide on rationing

March 18, 2009 7:41:36 PM PDT
Local water agencies are struggling to deal with the water shortfall. The Contra Costa Water District is taking a first look at possible mandatory rationing.

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Water users in much of Contra Costa County may soon be asked to turn it way down. That's as the local water board decides whether to turn to mandatory rationing.

"Do you think you could cut back if you had to?" asked ABC7's Laura Anthony.
"I definitely will. We've had to do it before," says Dan Petersen, Concord resident.

The Contra Costa Water District gets all its water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which last month cut the district's allocation by 50-percent. If that stands, Contra Costa could impose mandatory rationing on its 550,000 customers by May 1st, despite the recent rains.

"It's better than we were in February, but the reservoirs were drained. So we've got a 90-percent snowpack, no rain in January and February, so this will bring the reservoirs up to about 60, 65-percent of normal," says Wally Bishop, from the Contra Costa Water District.

Contra Costa's proposed drought management plan would not penalize residential customers who already conserve.

A household that averages just 125 gallons per day would not have to cut back at all. One that uses 500 gallons must conserve 20-percent, and ones that use 1,200 per day would have to cut back 40-percent.

Those who fail to meet their goal would pay penalties.

As the Contra Costa Water District moves toward mandatory restrictions, those with lots of landscaping might worry that cutting back is just another term for letting their lawn turn brown.

Rain Morninstar is a gardener in Contra Costa County, who specializes in helping clients cut their water usage, without killing their landscaping.

"It's not an issue of brown and green. It's an issue of being educated and knowing how to water properly," says Morninstar, from "The Happy Gardener".

The Contra Costa Water District will vote on whether to impose mandatory rationing on April 1, 2009.

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