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California Drought: 17 Communities Could Run Out of Water Within 4 Months

Users of Hetch Hetchy water are asked to step-up conservation efforts by at least 10 percent...or else.

Lawn watering is already banned in some Sonoma County communities, and other towns could soon follow. (Photo:Patch Archive)
Lawn watering is already banned in some Sonoma County communities, and other towns could soon follow. (Photo:Patch Archive)
By Bea Karnes

While the Bay Area greatly anticipates a storm that could produce the first measurable rainfall in weeks, water system administrators and users are hearing more dire predictions about drought and urgent requests for conservation on a daily basis.

[Related article: Dublin Experiences Driest Year on Record]

Hetch Hetchy water is used by Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda counties in addition to San Francisco, which owns the system. On Tuesday, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly announced that all customers of the system will be asked to cut consumption by at least 10 percent...or else, I believe voluntary water conservation efforts are the best way to avert mandatory cutbacks and other water restrictions should drought conditions persist.”

And Hetch Hetchy users are the lucky ones.

According to a report in the Contra Costa Times, 17 communities across the state are in danger of running out of water within four months.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, tiny Lompico County Water District near Felton could have to start trucking in water for its 500 customers in the near future.

North of the Golden Gate in Sonoma County, thousands of residents of Healdsburg and Cloverdale are struggling. Just last week Cloverdale instituted mandatory 25 percent rationing. And that’s on top of the 50 percent water rate hike already in place to pay for two new wells.

The state is closely monitoring the drought and reporting updates on water systems statewide on a weekly basis. The Sierra snowpack, source of Hetch Hetchy water—last week measured just 14 percent of normal.

Deanna February 26, 2014 at 08:11 PM
I noticed that Tuolumne county is not listed on here. Three rivers run through Tuolumne County, yet the water rights belong to San Francisco and Stockton and Turlock. The two resevoires that are reserved for Tuolumne county are nearly mud puddles as witnessed by my own eyes. I lived up there for 16 years and I have never seen anything like it. Tuolumne Utility District has mandated cut backs of 25%, plus watering your lawn this year will be punished with a $500.00 fine. Seasonal firefighters have been called back early with the expectation of a long fire season. Much of the water that is used in firefighting efforts by air assault is pulled from these reservoirs. The remaining reservoir in Tuolumne county that is yet untapped is Beardsly. It should come as no surprise that the people in Toulumne and and surrounding counties, express bitterness when there are three rivers running through it and they have no rights. They will have to buy back water that flows down into New Melonies from the city of Stockton. I do not believe there are plans in place to purchase water back from San Francisco. It is predicted that they will be out of water within 120 to 140 days even with the conservation efforts. I would ask that people please believe me when I say, this series of storms is not enough to make a substantial difference. Put a bucket in your showers to capture water that can then be used to flush your toilet. Put containers out to capture water from the rain and please do not take it for granted water for granted because you only have voluntary cut backs. Others have dry wells, mandatory cut backs and will run out of water very soon.

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