2014 Drought

October 14, 2014


For a bi-weekly update on statewide drought conditions, click here.

In September, Santa Cruz residents saved the most water yet. Our use in September was down 29.7% over 2012 and 2013. That's a remarkable accomplishment, and we thank all of our customers for your efforts to save water. We know many of you have sacrificed your lawns and gardens, have put up with short showers and not flushing your toilets, and are getting tired of hauling bath and dish water to water your plants. We know this takes effort and gets tiresome. We are grateful for your commitment to save and protect our water supply. Once again, THANK YOU. 

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