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Willits contemplates stricter water restrictions


With no rain in sight, Willits officials are contemplating imposing tough new restrictions on city water users.

It’s either that or “send out a (request for proposal) for a rain dance,” said Willits City Councilman Bruce Burton.

The nearby Brooktrails subdivision also is eyeing water restrictions as is the agency that manages Russian River water rights in the Ukiah Valley.

“By our January meeting we’re going to have to do something” if there’s no significant rainfall before then, said Sean White, manager of the Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District.

The city of Willits has about 100 days worth of water left in its two reservoirs, officials said. One is at about half capacity — 345 acre feet — while the other, with 48.4 acre feet, is almost out of usable water, officials said. An acre foot contains 325,851 gallons.

Barring significant rainfall, the council will consider imposing Phase 3, mandatory water restrictions at its meeting on Jan. 8, said City Manager Adrienne Moore. A special meeting could be called if the situation becomes drastic, she said.

Phase 3 restrictions include limiting water use to 250 gallons a day per residence. Daily per capita water use in California ranges from about 108 gallons to 472 gallons, according to a Sierra Club study.

Phase 3 also prohibits all non-essential water uses, such as washing sidewalks, parking lots and vehicles or filling swimming pools and hot tubs.

Commercial and industrial users would be required to reduce their water use by 15 percent.

Willits residents already are under Phase 2 restrictions, which limits outdoor watering. Water use was reduced by about 20 percent until temperatures dipped below freezing last week.

At that point, the city’s water consumption quadrupled to about 1.2 million gallons a day, Burton said.

City officials suspect that either residents were running water to protect their pipes or that water was lost when pipes did break.

If water use drops back down to pre-freeze levels, it could eliminate the need for further water restrictions, Burton said.

“Then we have a little more of a buffer,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com

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