More Counties Looking At Water Rationing Options

Monterey and San Benito Counties weigh tougher conservation measures

MONTEREY, Calif. - Water managers on the Monterey Peninsula are taking a step to ramp up their conservation efforts.  But the peninsula is actually in a much better position than another nearby county because it's been able to conserve more water. 

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is going to move forward with some options taken from several different tiers of conservation to keep things under control.  But San Benito County Water District said it's in a dire situation because the federal government may tap into some precious resources.

"We're experiencing an extremely dry period, that's probably the driest period in the last 150 years or more," said San Benito County Water District manager Jeff Cattaneo.

Cattaneo said he's scrambling to come up with more water for the district's agricultural and urban customers.  he says last week the federally-run bureau of reclamation came knocking on his door for 8,000 acre feet of water his customers had squirreled away for a time when the reservoirs ran dry.

"One of their considerations for meeting their base needs because they were so short of water -- was for them to come and take that water that we had purchased and saved," Cattaneo said.

On Wednesday, the San Benito board decided to move forward with plan to hold a discussion meeting in February, where an emergency drought declaration will be considered.  Even though the Peninsula is in a better spot, its still taking steps to be conservative. 

San Benito County said it's water rationing could happen a lot faster if the federal government steps in.

"Our allocation, amount of water that we're going to get from the central valley project this next year for our agricultural customers is going to be zero," Cattaneo said.

Cattaneo said agricultural customers should expect a 15 percent reduction in water and a 25 percent reduction for urban customers.

Water managers on the Peninsula said, if we don't get 5-6 inches of rain by May, we could be pushed into stage 4 rationing.

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