Atascadero lifts water conservation measures

The mid-October storm that drenched San Luis Obispo County with an unseasonable amount of rain has prompted Atascadero to lift its mandatory water conservation measures.

The Atascadero Mutual Water Co.’s decision came after a rain gauge at its corporate yard on Sycamore Avenue showed 5.2 inches of rain fell during the storm.

The drought water rates for single-family customers, the requirement of alternate-day landscape watering and the prohibition of landscape watering between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. are no longer in effect. That means water shortages have been downgraded.

Still, the utility wants its customers to keep conserving water. So it will retain some restrictions on its 10,338 accounts — or about 30,000 people — until sufficient rainfall is received to adequately replenish its aquifer, officials said. Among other things, customers must:

The Paso Robles City Council voted earlier this month to ease its conservation rules for fall and winter.

The mandatory measures — such as limiting lawn watering to three days per week between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. — became voluntary Oct. 15 through April 30. They will become mandatory again May 1.

Though rains helped, officials say fire season will continue

Although an October storm produced record-setting rainfall in some areas of the county this month, Cal Fire officials say it’s not enough to call off fire season just yet.

They will ease up on fire preparations after a long-term weather pattern consistent with more typical winter weather sets in.

“Even though we’ve had some rain recently, the weather is starting to warm up again and it’s still windy,” Cal Fire Capt. Chad Zrelak said. “The fire danger is still moderate to high in some places in the county.”

Historically, Cal Fire has closed fire season when two inches of rain hit but “that’s not always an effective guide,” Zrelak said, adding that such factors as moist vegetation, humidity and wind also play a part.

Its roughly 10,000 water accounts — representing about 29,950 people — are also still encouraged to conserve. Users saved 275 million gallons off their typical summer use from May to mid-September compared to the same periods in 2008 and 2007, officials said.