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San Luis Obispo County will restrict outdoor water use in Avila Valley, Cayucos, Santa Margarita, and Shandon 

Come September, home gardeners and lovers of lawns will have their irrigation use restricted in four San Luis Obispo County towns, preserving a few drops in the bucket of county- and state-wide efforts to conserve water amid one of the worst droughts on record in California.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 19 approved an ordinance that restricts outdoor water use to Mondays and Thursdays in the Avila Valley, Cayucos, Santa Margarita, and Shandon county service areas. The restrictions will begin around Sept. 18 and last until sometime next spring, unless extended. The ordinance is an extension of a statewide mandate from Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce statewide water use by 20 percent. Counties are required to extend those reduction goals to the non-urban water supplies they oversee.

That initial goal wasn’t met, so the California Water Resources Control Board passed additional restrictions that ban run-off, washing sidewalks and driveways, using water in decorative fountains unless it is recycled, and using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

Education will be the prime component of the effort, said Andrea Montes, utilities program manager at the county Public Works Department. Field staff will begin with outreach in the four towns, assisted by door hangers and billboards.

“We’re just really hoping that people understand that California is in a drought,” Montes told New Times. “Our main message is just to conserve water.”

The item was quick and painless, as far as water-use restrictions go, demonstrating that perhaps people have generally gotten the message. Not a single person spoke during public comment, and the supervisors received one letter of support. After a brief discussion, supervisors unanimously approved the restrictions, recognizing that while the effort isn’t perfect, it’s part of a bigger picture.

“The unfortunate thing of it is, is that some of our [Community Service Areas] don’t use that much water, and taking 20 percent off of that will be really tough for them,” said 1st District Supervisor Frank Mecham. “I think it’s an unfair burden, but for the same token I think it’s a necessity to try to accomplish some of this.”

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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