Dry California tourist town to guests: ‘Please conserve’ – News Vibe24

    Dry California tourist town to guests: 'Please conserve' - Times of India
    MENTOKINO: Tourists flock to the coastal city of Mendocino for thousands of Victorian homes and cliff paths, but visitors this summer also find public portable toilets and signs on fences saying, “Severe drought. Please save water.” Hotels closed their bathrooms in the lobby and residents stopped watering their gardens at the foggy outpost about 240 miles (240 kilometers) north of San Francisco after two years of light rain that burned many of the wells on which Mendocino depends on drinking water.
    Mendocino’s woes have worsened in recent weeks when the town of Fort Bragg, a few miles north – the main backup water supplier – informed officials that it also had a significant drop in drinking water supplies after the Noyo River hit its lowest level in decades.
    “This is a real emergency,” said Ryan Rhoades, an inspector with Mendocino City Community Services, which helps manage the city’s aquifer.
    Eric Hillesland and his wife would normally not have to buy water until the end of July or August to supply the Alegria Inn, the 10-room B&B with breakfast.
    But the estate started pumping some water at the beginning of the year and by February they had ordered 3,500 gallons (13,250 liters) per week.
    The couple then stopped watering the gardens and switched from glass to paper plates to serve welcome cookies. They plan to start using microfiber bedding, which needs less water to wash.
    “We also ask our guests to be aware of the seriousness of the water shortage and not to take extensive showers that they may be accustomed to at home,” Hillesland said.
    Mendocino relies on groundwater accessed through a network of about 400 private wells, many of which were excavated by hand when the former mill town was founded in the 1850s.
    Residents and business owners retain their water in storage tanks, including some historic redwood towers perched on top.
    The city has about 1,000 inhabitants, but its economy depends on about 2,000 people visiting every day during the peak tourist season, from May to October, Rhoades said.
    Traditionally, businesses had to carry water in the fall. But after a second dry winter, many had to order more, much earlier than before.
    Due to the pandemic and home orders, there were few visitors last year when city dwellers began to notice that their wells were producing less. Now the weekend getaway destination for people in the Sacramento and San Francisco areas is packed with visitors.
    This has forced residents and business owners to find fountains of drinking water farther away, which has doubled the price of water. Some restaurants reduce their opening hours to reduce costs.
    In February, Hillesland paid $ 300 for a delivery of 3,500 gallons (13,250 liters). Now it costs 600 USD.
    If it gets worse and rooms have to start closing, “then we are in a situation like at the beginning of the pandemic – no income, but still plenty of mortgage and insurance,” he said.
    Many long-term solutions are being considered, including barge, air and train water transport and the addition of storage tanks that can hold up to 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters), asking the US National Guard or the Army Corps of Engineers to set up a mobile desalination plant, even catching fog.
    But all of this is expensive and the city will need the support of the state and the federal government, Rhoades said.
    A company that has developed new technology to trap moisture in the fog has proposed setting up a test site in Mendocino at no cost and selling water to the community.
    But Rhoades said the infrastructure would affect the city’s scenic views and obtaining a permit would be a challenge. A desalination plant will face similar licensing and environmental barriers.
    “Transporting treated water, which is known from an internal source, can be a faster solution, although it is expensive,” he said.
    Robert Pinoli, president of Mendocino Railway, which operates the historic Skunk train, said he was ready to help. Since 1885, the train has been moving from Willits through redwood forests and river gorges to Fort Bragg.
    Pinoli said he could quickly find tank cars, connect them to the locomotive and deliver up to 200,000 gallons (757,000 liters) per trip. He identified a source for tank cars in 2015 when Fort Bragg ran out of water and considered buying inland water to carry it to shore. Officials distorted these plans after the rain.
    He said that if Willits decides he wants to sell his water and Fort Bragg wants to buy it, “we are becoming a sensible vehicle for transporting water on a large enough scale”.
    Willits officials recently decided not to sell their water in the dry city.
    At the moment, Mendocino residents rely on people like Brian Clark, who sells water from his well outside the city and transports it. Clark said he could not meet demand.
    “I’m really hiding from the phone because I receive more calls than I have water and I hear from people I have not met, I have not heard and I can not help them,” he said. he said.
    Clark, a longtime resident, said Mendocino had not had such water storage problems since the 1970s when California faced the worst drought on record.
    Short-term solutions for county officials include waiver requirements for storage tanks that can hold up to 5,000 gallons (18,900 liters) and identification of excess water wells near Mendocino. Officials are also asking the state to help finance the larger private tanks, Rhoades said.
    “I want residents to be able to store more water now, while their wells are still somewhat productive, to make ends meet in the next four months. And if they have to buy water, you will get the biggest blow for your money.” , he said. Ε (AP) IND

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