Santa Cruz residents face mandatory water rationing

Santa Cruz residents are learning a lot about conservation and consequences as mandatory water rationing goes into effect.
May 1, 2014 7:42:42 PM PDT
Mandatory water-rationing begins Thursday in Santa Cruz in the midst of an historic drought. Residents are finding they have a lot to learn with regard to conservation and consequences.

A sign on the Santa Cruz City Hall lawn reads, "In an effort to conserve water, lawn irrigation in this area has been turned off." So if city hall's lawn can go brown, so can every lawn across Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is known for its surfing. But now instead of cutting back on wave, residents will have to cut back on their water usage.

Mandatory restrictions start May 1 and run through Oct. 31. Many people are already getting creative.

One home has two garbage cans to collect rainwater from the gutters. They're still half full from last week's storm. And another home gets a little help from the creek trickling through the property.

"For all the plants," said the resident. "No using the city water."

Water officials say Santa Cruz has one of the lowest water usage rates in the state. But because there's only one reservoir serving the area, very little drop counts.

Starting Thursday, each home with four or fewer people is allotted 249 gallons a day. If you go ten percent over it's an extra $25 on your bill, and $50 for each ten percent over that. That's pretty easy to do if you're not careful.

Older toilets can use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. A 10 minute shower using a standard showerhead uses 25 gallons of water. And a load of laundry in a traditional model washing machine can use anywhere from 27 to 54 gallons of water per use.

But if you replace those with water saving versions, you could cut your usage in half or more.

"I think I've done my part to try to reduce my needs," said Santa Cruz resident Cathy Escobar. "In my most recent bill I was down to seven units for a family of five. I think that's pretty good."

Landscaping will take a hit in Santa Cruz. Several restrictions are in place, including no watering between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. And all hoses must have a shut off nozzle.

Water department workers will be patrolling, looking for violations. They can even ticket you with a second offense, costing you $100.

"I think the money issue is a scare thing," said Santa Cruz resident Cindy Mori. "People are afraid of going over. But I think all in all it's going to be the best thing for our community."

The water department says it will give warning at first to help educate the public. The goal is to save 100 million gallons of water.

Customers are encouraged to visit the city's drought website at www.cityofsantacruz.com/drought for detailed information on water rationing. Customers can also visit the Water Department's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SantaCruzWaterDepartment.

(Bay City News contributed to this report)


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