Drought forces strict conservation

Union Democrat staff

Tuolumne Utilities District began implementing mandatory water-use restrictions on its customers Tuesday night to prepare for what's anticipated to be an historic drought year.

The district aims to halve water usage across the entire TUD system, following a low initial snowpack reading for the season and recently released long-term forecasts that predict more dryness for California in the coming months.

Only about 2 inches of rain have fallen over the county this winter, while the average amount for the end of January is about 17 inches. The Sierra snowpack also reflects the lack of precipitation. The California Department of Water Resources earlier this month found the water content at 20 percent of normal - tied for 2012 as the lowest on record.

As of Tuesday night, district customers are required to cut back on watering their lawns, washing their cars and fix any identified plumbing leaks. Violators face penalties, including a $500 fine.

The last time the district went into so-called Phase III conservation mode was in the summer of 2012, though it only lasted for a week.

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.

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