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Water restrictions differ by community on the Central Coast

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Apr 27, 2022

The Board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared a water shortage emergency Tuesday, requiring about 6 million people to cut back their water usage. While that declaration does not include Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, water restrictions are not a new concept for many of our cities. Many already have emergency plans in place or are ready to enact them if water levels drop too low.

Not every city in San Luis Obispo County gets its water from the same place. Depending on the geographical location and the investments each city has made, the water source differs.

The City of San Luis Obispo has invested in multiple sources over the past 60 years or so, predominantly three surface water sources, which has left them in a comfortable spot while other cities in the county are facing major water shortages.

"We're not immune to drought. It affects all areas in California but it does position us where we're more able to get through those tough times," explained Michael Boerman, Utilities Director for SLO.

As of now, there are no water restrictions in place for San Luis Obispo City residents but that is not the case for its neighbors to the south who rely on the dwindling water in Lopez lake.

Arroyo Grande has some of the toughest restrictions in the county. On October 12th of last year, the  City Council declared a Stage 1 Water Shortage Emergency. 

"The council enacted mandatory water restrictions that are enforced all the time no matter the water supply. No watering between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and no water Wednesday. You don’t get to water at all Wednesday," said Shane Taylor. Utilities Manager for Arroyo Grande.

Those, among other restrictions, are in place for both Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach.

These conservation efforts are based on the levels of each water source which SLO County monitors for each water agency they work with among the different cities.

"Once the reservoirs hit 10,000 feet, we start making cuts to their entitlement contracts and that’s the amount of water each agency has available to them at any given year. Right now, we are below 15,000 feet so they’ve all been cut by 10 percent to each agency," said David Spiegel, Senior Utilities Engineer for San Luis Obispo County.

Those looming restrictions are almost a guarantee at this point, and both the cities of Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande are prepping for it.

Next Tuesday, the Pismo Beach City Council will go over data to decide whether to enhance their drought restrictions all the way to the final crisis stage which is critical.

"That category has all the same restrictions plus it gives the council the authority to impose any restrictions they see fit," explained Benjamin Fine, Director of Public Works for Pismo Beach.

These restrictions vary from city to city so it's important to stay up to date on what your restrictions are in your neighborhood. In Arroyo Grande, if you are caught straying from the rules, you'll a warning to get back on track.