SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – The Santa Cruz City Council has unanimously approved strict new water rationing rules, calling for 25 percent mandatory cutbacks for residents, due to the continued statewide drought.
Toby Goddard with the Santa Cruz Water Department said these are the first mandatory cuts for the city in nearly 25 years.
“The city is facing a very challenging situation with respect to water supply,” he said.
The situation has gone from disastrous earlier this year to merely dismal, thanks to some late season rainfall. As of April 1, rainfall for the season measured 12.10 inches, or 43 percent of normal, with monthly rainfall totals in February and March close to normal. City officials said the 2014 water year will likely go down as one of the driest in the history of Santa Cruz.
The new water rationing rules go into effect May 1.
Customers who go over their allotted amount of water by 10 percent could be fined $25 per extra unit of water, but Goddard said there are exceptions.
“If it’s health-related, absolutely. But for non health-related or other reasons, it could be denied because we are in an emergency,” Goddard said.
Violators can appeal their water fines, in a system similar to fighting a traffic ticket, a decision applauded by Santa Cruz City Councilmember Micah Posner.
“It is a really creative, great idea,” he said. “It goes along with your commitment to saving water, rather than trying to make money.”
Reservoir storage at Loch Lomond Reservoir stands at 1.93 billion gallons, or nearly 68 percent of capacity. That translates to 76 percent of average at the end of March.