Drought has Rural Residents and Farmers Hurting for Water in North SLO County

Leah Masuda, KCOY Central Coast News Reporter, LeahMasuda@kcoy.com
POSTED: 05:38 PM PST Jan 06, 2014    UPDATED: 08:47 PM PST Jan 06, 2014 
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NORTH SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- -

With the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin at dangerously low levels it is hurting both rural homeowners and farmers.  To makes things worst this year is the driest year on record in San Luis Obispo County as well as the state.

"I've been here since 1998 I’ve ran out of water 4 times here," said CC Coats, a rural north county resident. CC Coats daily life in San Miguel has drastically changed over the years. "In the morning when we go to brush our teeth or wash our face if we want warm water we fill up this smaller jug while the water is warming up and pour it into the big bucket and again use it for house plants, dog water," said Coats.

Now it's a household routine to try and save one of life's most precious resources. "My husband actually goes to the point of turning the water off, he soaps up turns the water off soaps, and then turns the water back on and rinses," said Coats. Coats says the times they have run out of water it lasts 2-3 weeks and when it happens everything changes. "It's very scary you call neighbors can I do laundry? Can I come over and wash my hair? Can I brush my teeth?" said Coats.

At one point Coats ran a hose all the way from her neighbor’s home. "I believe it is 250 feet from their water tank and we were able to hook it up into our system so that we could have water for cooking," said Coats.

"I was born on this vineyard in 1950," said Richard Dusi. Richard Dusi runs a dry farmed vineyard which needs one ingredient to work. "Lets just pray for rain," said Dusi.

Dusi says 3 drought years has forced him to irrigate doing whatever it takes to save a family owned vineyard of 75 years. "Right now we are watering one time; hopefully getting down about 3 inches to make these vines survive to the rest of the year," said Dusi.

That's where Coats is at now. She only has enough water to last a year at that point, she will need to pay 30-40 thousand dollars to re-drill. "We don't know if we should pack up and leave the area which we don't want to, we don't know if we could even sell the property it's already underwater so to speak," said Coats.