SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Seventeen rural communities in drought-stricken California are in danger of running out of water within four months, according to a list compiled by state officials.
Wells are running dry or reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities. Others have long-running problems that predate the drought.
The communities range from the area covered by the tiny Lompico County Water District in Santa Cruz County to the cities of Healdsburg and Cloverdale in Sonoma County, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/LmgFL2) reported Tuesday.
Most of the districts, which serve from 39 to 11,000 residents, have too few customers to collect enough revenue to pay for backup water supplies or repair failing equipment, the newspaper reported.
A storm expected to drop light and moderate rains on Northern California on Wednesday and Thursday won't help much.
The list of vulnerable communities was compiled by the state health department based on a survey last week of the more than 3,000 water agencies in California.
"As the drought goes on, there will be more that probably show up on the list," said Dave Mazzera, acting drinking-water division chief for the state Department of Public Health.
He said state officials are discussing solutions such as trucking in water and providing funding to drill more wells or connect rural water systems to other water systems.
Lompico County Water District, in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Felton, has just 500 customers and needs nearly $3 million in upgrades to its water system.
"We have been unable to take water out of the creek since August and well production is down, and we didn't have that much water to begin with," said Lois Henry, a Lompico water board member.
Henry said the district may soon have to truck in water.
In Cloverdale, where 9,000 get water from four wells, low flows in the Russian River have prompted the City Council to implement mandatory 25 percent rationing and ban lawn watering. The city raised water rates 50 percent to put in two new wells, which should be completed by July.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get through the summer and the development of this project will pay off." City Manager Paul Caylor said.
Residents of urban areas for the most part have not felt the effects of the drought so far.
Other areas on the state list include small water districts in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Kern, Amador, Mendocino, Nevada and Placer counties.
Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com
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