Water officials ask public to cut back usage 

Residents and businesses are being asked to cut back on their water use to help stymie a shortage induced by the fourth driest winter on record.

Trying to avoid more drastic conservation measures during the summer and fall, Bay Area water officials are targeting a 10-percent reduction in usage in its push for voluntary conservation.

Measures touted by officials include shorter showers, planting drought-tolerant gardens, plugging leaks and replacing toilets and washing machines with more efficient models. Consumers should contact local water districts and utilities to find out what rebates are available for new appliances.

"This is a practice that people really need to get used to," said Susan Leal, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The dry winter has impacted the snow pack, from which the Hetch Hetchy system and its 2.4 million Bay Area customers derive 65 percent of their water, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which can hold 117 billion gallons, is now at only 27 percent of its normal amount. Leal said this year’s level is 54 percent below normal.

The commission will continue monitoring water levels bi-weekly until the end of May or early June, when they will decide whether to undergo mandatory rationing of water. In the meantime, it is advising consumers to be smart.

Leal said, for example, that when it rained Tuesday night, The City’s sprinklers likely came on Wednesday morning. "It wasn’t very smart and we’ve got to be smart," she said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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