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Cloverdale imposes mandatory water conservation

Cloverdale on Wednesday became the second city in Sonoma County to impose mandatory water conservation measures, the day after neighboring Healdsburg did the same.

That means Cloverdale residents must curtail their water use by 25 percent compared to the same time last year, to deal with the record drought gripping the state.

Cloverdale municipal wells rely entirely on the Russian River, which is running exceptionally low, prompting projections that the wells will not be able to produce enough water to meet demand.

“We've seen the river levels drop off dramatically in the past two weeks,” Cloverdale Public Works director Craig Scott said.

He said without a 25 percent reduction in water consumption, the city's demand will exceed supply beginning around April 1 and face the prospect of wells running dry.

“We're projecting we will be short without aggressive reduction,” he said.

The City Council unanimously approved the mandatory conservation measures, which go into effect immediately.

That means people cannot wash off sidewalks or driveways with an open hose, and can only use a hose or drip irrigation on lawns and shrubbery.

“I'm anticipating we're going to see a lot of brown lawns this summer,” said City Manager Paul Cayler, who said it is critical to keep enough water on hand for drinking and bathing, as well as fire protection.

In restaurants, water will not be served to customers, unless requested.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Brigham, who owns a brewpub, said she expects to see paper plates and paper cups become the norm.

Brigham said she is bitterly disappointed because water scarcity is curtailing her plans to expand production of her Ruth McGowan's beer line. But she said conservation is necessary to ensure the city doesn't go dry.

Cloverdale has the option to penalize customers who don't comply with fines or cutting off service, but won't be reviewing their water records unless they are reported for excessive use. The emphasis is on education.

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