Santa Cruz declares 'water shortage alert'

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The water level in the San Lorenzo River is extremely low. Normally during this time of year the rocky river floor would be covered.

On Tuesday water district officials took their worries to the Santa Cruz City Council and asked they declare a "water shortage alert". It passed unanimously.

Starting May 1, no gardens or lawns can be watered between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., spraying down paved surfaces or decks will be banned, and all hoses must have a shut off nozzle.

"You can't wash your car, you can't hose off your deck and it gets really dirty when we have a dry year. Things are dirty and you want to hose them off and you can't," said Santa Cruz resident Nancy Nason.

Santa Cruz is forced to balance the needs of its residents with environmental requirements. For the first time, state and federal fishery agencies are putting water level mandates on the city.

"We are under additional regulatory scrutiny to leave the streams from where the city draws its water in for endangered species," said Toby Goddard, a Water Conservation Manager.

By increasing river and stream levels for the fish, the water department can't store the water for human use later. Some residents admit water rationing is getting tedious.

The water district will be in charge of making sure people follow these orders. Anyone who doesn't could be fined $100-$500.

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