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How Central Coast communities will be affected by mandated statewide water restrictions

Flickr member HereStanding

Governor Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring mandatory water rationing for the first time in California's history. He announced the plan from a snowless Ski Resort in the Sierra Nevada.

The spot where Brown was standing would have had five feet of snow during an average year, but instead the ground at his feet was bare. The state's snowpack survey showed record low levels of water storage at just five percent of normal.

Ron Munds is the City of San Luis Obispo's Utilities Services Manager. He was on a conference call with the state immediately following the announcement to learn how it may affect water usage locally.

"They're going to want this 25 percent reduction statewide, and for the City of San Luis Obispo to actually reduce 25 percent is next to impossible at this point," said Munds. "I mean, that would drive us into a level that we've probably never seen here, even in the last drought."

Munds says he believes the Water Resources Control Board will take into account communities with low per-capita water use, which could spare those areas from further restrictions.

Matt Naftaly is the Water Agency Manager for Santa Barbara County and says that's how he understands it as well.

"It does appear that they're looking for some kind of equity in terms of per capita use," said Naftaly. "Even if a district is already achieving something like 25 percent, then there's probably some requirements as to per capita equity as well."

An example of this in Santa Barbara County could be the community of Montecito, which has greatly curtailed overall water usage. However, in terms of per capita usage, the area still uses a lot more water than its neighbors in Santa Barbara and Goleta.

According to the Pacific Institute's California Urban Water Suppliers Water Use Map, Montecito residents and businesses used 90 gallons per capita, per day (gpcd) in December of 2014, while those in Santa Barbara used 53 gpcd and Goleta just 37.

The state may take statistics like these into consideration, not just the overall percentage the community has cut back.

Naftaly says its' unclear at this point how the state plans to enforce the new mandatory water rationing rules.