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Santa Cruz County faces potential water rationing

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) January's big storm brought some much needed rain to the central coast. But prior to the storm, water supply in Santa Cruz County and surrounding areas was looking rough, sparking a conversation of a possible water rationing mandate.

The last time a significant water ration was implemented in the city was in 2014 and 2015, back when California saw exceptional drought conditions.
The recent storm, and the splash of showers since, has helped to make a dent in the water supply.

Rosemary Menard, the Director of Water Department for Santa Cruz states it all comes down to what Mother Nature has in store for the future and whether Santa Cruz residents will have to ration come summer.

"We don’t have that one year of supply in Loch Lomand and if we have a really dry winter then we can get into trouble pretty fast. But we can get out of trouble pretty fast too if we get more normal precipitation patterns."

Even with more people flocking to the city and surrounding areas, development and population growth is not driving the demand for water supply augmentation.

Menard stated its the inadequate reservoir storage, "We only have one reservoir and that’s Loch Lomond, it’s not big enough to get us through multiple years of a drought or even a dry winter.”

Larger reservoirs are designed to meet demand and help better withstand back to back dry periods.

With a few rainy months still on the calendar, Menard says, "Its not over yet". They look at the water supply very carefully taking into account, reservoir levels, flow requirements and customer demand, then make a projection they can bring to the water commission. Come April 5th, 2021 they will have a another meeting about what actions, if any, need to take place.

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Erika Bratten

Erika Bratten is a weather forecaster for KION News Channel 5/46.

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