Drought Masthead


How does the City Council's declaration of a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency affect me? How much water can I use? My account type is:


Residential    Santa Cruz commercial building     Irrigation
 Residential      Business/Industrial     Irrigation


I want to...                                                              I'd like more information on...     

Increase my allotment                                         Stage 3 Water Shortage Restrictions and Regulations       
Apply for an exception to rationing regulations       How to Read your Water Meter                             
Sign up for Water School                                     When will SCMU read my water meter?    
Learn about saving water                                    Weekly water conditions 
Report water waste                                            Water reduction goals
                                                                        Water supply outlook 
                                                                        Statewide drought information
                                                                        Media Contact
Uh-oh! I exceeded my allotment.
Got a penalty? Understand your options.


April 15, 2015

On April 14, 2015, The Santa Cruz City Council took action to declare a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency for the second year in a row. The City’s water supply situation, while perhaps not quite as dire as last year, remains precarious. The November and December rains helped, but record dry weather in January and low rainfall since mean drought conditions will continue unabated for at least one more year. The likelihood that any additional rainfall will improve conditions significantly from this point forward is extremely low.

Starting May 1st, the same water use regulations and restrictions as 2014 will go into place for SCMU water customers. 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 in storage at the Loch Lomond Reservoir.

The primary measures going back into place are:

  • Enforced water rationing for single family and multi-family residential accounts, as well as for large landscape irrigation accounts.
  • Requirements for businesses, including limits on irrigation, mandatory signage, and specific requirements for hospitality and food establishment businesses.
  • Outdoor water use restrictions for all customers.

Thank you to all of our customers for your continued commitment to saving water during these unprecedented drought conditions. We recognize the hardship associated with cutting back your water use significantly for two years in a row.


Got a penalty? Understand your options.

If you incurred a penalty for exceeding your monthly water allotment, there are several things you can do:

  • Pay the penalty.
  • Sign up for Water School. This is a one-time option to attend a class and have your penalty removed for one month.
  • Appeal your penalty. You can appeal if you incurred the penalty because of an error by the Water Department.
  • If you incurred a penalty due to a significant leak that you discovered and fixed, we may be able to provide some assistance. Contact the SCMU office at (831) 420-5220.
  • Set up a free Home Water Survey with the Water Conservation Office. A conservation staff member will help you identify ways to reduce water use inside and outside your home and stay within your allotment in the future.

Statewide Drought Information

On April 1, 2015, Governor Brown signed an executive order requiring the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to put additional statewide water regulations in place. Read about the Executive Order here.

The new regulations, to be formally approved in May, require a statewide reduction in urban water use by 25% from 2013 levels. The requirement will be weighted for each community based on their residential per capita water use: communities that use more water per person than average must make greater cuts to their water consumption, and communities that already conserve water have a less stringent requirement. Because Santa Cruz has had one of the lowest residential per capita water use levels in the state, we are required to cut our water use by 8% from 2013 levels. Last year, our per capita water use was 24% less than in 2013, so if we repeat what we did last year, we will more than meet the target. It is important to understand that our water savings goal is based on our supply -- not the state requirement. The state is recognizing the hard work of our community to save water by requiring us to only reduce our use this year by 8%. WE APPRECIATE THE RECOGNITION FROM THE STATE! However our precarious supply requires us to make much deeper savings. 

In addition to the overall reduction requirement, the new statewide requirements would include restrictions on specific types of water uses. Visit the SWRCB website for current statewide restrictions as well as the new proposed statewide restrictions.


 Check out the Save Our Water website for information on statewide drought conditions    and regulations, as well as tips to help you save water. 


For the most recent state-wide drought report, click here.
State Water Resources Control Board drought information
Department of Water Resources  - State Drought Information
Governor Brown's Drought State of Emergency Proclamation
Drought Monitor Map


Water Conservation

Santa Cruz Water Conservation programs
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