A discarded tire is seen stuck in the exposed lake bed of the Almaden Reservoir which is experiencing extremely low water levels due to the ongoing drought, in San Jose, 30 January 2014. Photo: Michael Short / The Chronicle

By Kurtis Alexander
30 January 2014

(San Francisco Chronicle) – It is a bleak roadmap of the deepening crisis brought on by one of California's worst droughts - a list of 17 communities and water districts that within 100 days could run dry of the state's most precious commodity.

The threatened towns and districts, identified this week by state health officials, are mostly small and in rural areas. They get their water in a variety of ways, from reservoirs to wells to rivers. But, in all cases, a largely rainless winter has left their supplies near empty.

In the Bay Area, Cloverdale and Healdsburg in Sonoma County are among those at risk of running out of water, according to the state. The small Lompico Water District in the Santa Cruz Mountains is also on the list. Others could be added if the dry weather lingers.

"These systems all are experiencing challenges meeting customer need, and those challenges are exacerbated by drought conditions," said Matt Conens, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health.

The health department is looking to help the communities in several ways, Conens said. In some areas, new wells will be dug. In others, water may be hauled in. In some cases, smaller water systems will be connected with larger ones. […]

In the mountain town of Lompico in Santa Cruz County, the creek that provides the community with water has run dry, while three wells that tap an underground aquifer aren't drawing as much as usual.

The water district has required its 1,200 or so customers to scale back water use by 30 percent to preserve what little water it has, but officials aren't sure the conservation targets are realistic.

"Here's the problem: We live in the Santa Cruz Mountains. People don't have lawns. They don't have gardens. How are they going to conserve 30 percent?" said Lois Henry, president of the Lompico Water District board. […]

State public health officials have identified 17 towns and water districts that could run out of water within 100 days if nothing is done to enhance their supplies:

  • Shaver Lake Heights Mutual Water Company (Fresno County)
  • Sierra Cedars Community Services District (Fresno County)
  • Bass Lake Water Company (Madera County)
  • Whispering Pines Apartments (Mariposa County)
  • Boulder Canyon Water Association (Kern County)
  • Cypress Canyon Water System (Kern County)
  • Lake Of The Woods Mutual Water Company (Kern County)
  • Camp Condor (Kern County)
  • Jackson Valley Irrigation District (Amador County)
  • City of Willits (Mendocino County)
  • Redwood Valley Community Water District (Mendocino County)
  • Brooktrail Township Community Services District (Mendocino County)
  • Washington Ridge Conservation Camp (Nevada County)
  • Ophir Gardens (Placer County)
  • Lompico Water District (Santa Cruz County)
  • City of Cloverdale (Sonoma County)
  • City of Healdsburg (Sonoma County) [more]

California drought: communities at risk of running dry

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