2014 Drought


November 18, 2014


Thank you for all your hard work to save water this summer. Our goal was to keep Loch Lomond reservoir at or above 45% of capacity by the end of October in order to preserve scarce water supplies in case the drought continues. We exceeded our goal: as of October 31st, the lake is at 59% of capacity. Our town deserves no less than a standing ovation.

But, we are not out of the woods yet. On October 14th, City Council voted to extend the Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency on a month-to-month basis until water supply conditions improve.

12 inches. That’s how much rain we need before the Water Department will consider lifting rationing for the winter. Twelve inches of rain will replenish our watershed—the local rivers that make up our water sources—to the point where we could rely entirely on the rivers for water for the rest of the winter without drawing down Loch Lomond. Check out the weekly water conditions to see our rainfall to date.

Unfortunately, we cannot predict when the drought will end. We do know that it would take an above-average winter—at least 60 inches of rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains—to end this drought completely. We understand and appreciate the difficulty that extended rationing places on our customers. Thank you for all of your continued water conservation efforts.

For the most recent update on statewide drought conditions,click here.

For water conservation tips for residential properties, click here. You are also welcome to stop by the conservation office for information and free water-saving devices.

All new plants take water to get established, even drought-tolerant plants. If you are going to plant, take a look at some of the "Real People, Real Savings" on the Save Our Water website, for drought-friendly landscape ideas.

Rationing began May 1. Detailed information on rationing and drought resources can be found below.


On February 25, 2014, after reviewing continued extreme drought conditions, the City Council passed a resolution declaring a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency within the City of Santa Cruz water service area. Stage 3 is a level of water shortage requiring significant action by the community to reduce system-wide water use by 25%, to avoid using our limited water storage.

The three primary measures to be put in place in a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency are:

  • Enforced water rationing for single family and multi-family residential accounts.
  • Significantly scaled back water budgets for large irrigation accounts.
  • Mandatory water assessments, conservation plans and signage for commercial accounts.


For information on requirements for businesses during a stage 3 water shortage, click here.

For the large sign required for businesses to post, click here.

For the small sign required for business bathrooms, click here.


When will rationing begin, and how is rationing enforced?

Rationing began May 1, 2014. Each household was given a water allotment. If household water use goes over the allotment, penalties will be added to the bill. Penalties can add up quickly.For information on residential water allotments and penalties for using more than your allotment, click here. ASIGNACION DE AGUA PARA SU RESIDENCIA EN ESPANOL

For detailed information on rationing water restrictions, click here.

For multi-family accounts, complete the two-page Application for a Multi-Family Census Based Allotment.

Meter Reading Schedules



Here are some guidelines to stay within your ration:

  • Calculate your water allotment.
  • Read your water meter and understand your water bill.
  • Know where your water goes!


  • Fix leaks.
  • Install aerators on sinks and low-flow showerheads in bathrooms -- available for FREE from the Water Department.
  • Utilize City rebates to replace toilets, washing machines and turf.


  • Limit showers to 5 minutes or less.
  • Turn off landscape irrigation, such as sprinkler systems.
  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.

For information on ways to save water at home, click here.

For information on savings for commercial properties, click here.

Drought Resources 

Department of Water Resources  - State Drought Information
Governor Brown's Drought State of Emergency Proclamation
Drought Monitor Map
Santa Cruz Water Supply Outlook

Current Water Conditions in Santa Cruz

Stage 3 Water Restrictions are in Effect
Weekly Water Conditions

Water Conservation

Save Our Water
Water Conservation Tips
Water Use Calculator
Free Water Conservation Devices
How to Read your Water Meter
Greywater Information
How to Check for Leaks
Help Your Trees Survive the Drought


Santa Cruz Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Media Contact:
Eileen Cross