SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – Santa Cruz residents have been assessed more than half a million dollars in fines for excessive water use since a Stage 3 drought emergency was declared on May 1.

“Can I get you a glass of water?” That’s one question many restaurants in Santa Cruz have stopped asking altogether.

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“We do what we can as far as not bringing waters out unless requested,” said Clayton Eckstein, manager of Betty’s Eat Inn on Pacific Avenue.

Eckstein said the strict water restrictions due to the drought have been tough for all restaurants.

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“We try to fix any kind of leaks or take care of any kind of water problems right away,” he said. “Make sure all the servers and bartenders are conscientious about turning spigots on and off and making sure they let me know if anything is leaking or if there is any kind of problems.”

Each resident in Santa Cruz is limited to roughly 60 gallons of water a day. And while most have met that challenge, some have not and have been hit with hefty fines.

“We’ve probably had some upwards of $4,000. But that’s not typical,” said Toby Goddard with the Santa Cruz Water Department. “Most people are really trying to stay within their limit, so a hundred dollars or a couple hundred dollars is probably more common. Last night at the city’s water school, the average penalty for overuse was somewhere in the $500-$600 range.”

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Residents can get out of paying the fine once by attending water school. Goddard said for the most part, residents in Santa Cruz have taken heed of the call to conserve during the drought, as 95 percent of their customers are meeting their allotment.