California Town Asks Residents, Visitors to Conserve Water Amid Extreme Drought

Signs around the town of Mendocino read: "Severe Drought. Please conserve water,"

A coastal California town is begging tourists to conserve water, closing off hotel lobby bathrooms and posting signs around the area, amid years of too little rain.

The town of Mendocino, which sits a few hours north of San Francisco, is begging residents and visitors to conserve their use of water with public portable toilets and signs that read "Severe Drought. Please conserve water," The Associated Press reported.

The severe water shortage is the result of too little rain that has failed to fill the wells the town relies on for potable water. And the crisis was made dire when Mendocino's main backup supplier, Fort Bragg, said it saw a significant drop in its own drinking water reserves following low flows on the Noyo River, according to the AP.

"This is a real emergency," Ryan Rhoades, the superintendent of the Mendocino City Community Services District, told the wire service.

One bed and breakfast owner told the AP they switched from glass to paper plates to serve welcome cookies and stopped watering their gardens to save water.

Dried up Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, California.
The water level at Lake Mendocino continues to drop, hitting a record low of 29% capacity as viewed on June 2, 2021, near Ukiah, California. Due to a lack of rain during the driest North Coast weather in recorded history, municipalities and farmers in Mendocino, Sonoma, and Marin Counties who use water pulled from the Russian River drainage are now under mandatory water restrictions. George Rose/Getty Images

"We're also asking our guests to be cognizant of the severity of our water shortage and to not take the extensive showers they might be used to at home," the owner said.

This winter, the county received only 13.5 inches of rain, or 38% of its typical rainfall, according to the Mendocino County Water Agency. In typical years, the county receives an average of 39 inches of rain.

This was the second year water levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury (the two primary reservoirs for Mendocino County) were lower than the target supply. In fact, Lake Mendocino had 42% of its target supply and Lake Pillsbury had 50% of its target supply — lower than even during the height of the 2014 drought.

The drought conditions come as California continues to record wildfire activity with the Dixie Fire — the second largest in the state's history — already blazing through more than 482,000 acres, CNN reported. So far, the fire has destroyed more than 800 structures and damaged dozens more, forcing thousands to evacuate.

"We're seeing truly frightening fire behavior, I don't know how to overstate that," Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton told the network. "We have a lot of veteran firefighters who have served for 20, 30 years and have never seen behavior like this, especially day after day, and the conditions we're in. So we really are in uncharted territory around some of these extreme, large fires and the behavior we're seeing."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles