Santa Rosa is asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent in response to the drought that continues to threaten the region despite significant recent rainfall.

The City Council formalized the request Tuesday and authorized spending $75,000 on efforts to encourage conservation.

This includes media advertisements, placards and cards urging conservation at hotels and restaurants, and an event to distribute items such high-efficiency plumbing fixtures.

"Although we had a good-sized rain this weekend .<TH>.<TH>. the job is still on," Utilities Director Guhin said.

Reservoir levels have risen since the recent storm brought up to 15 inches of rain to some parts of the county. As of Tuesday Lake Mendocino has crept up to 40 percent of capacity, while Lake Sonoma stood at 67 percent, said Kimberley Zunino, water resources manager in the city's Utilities Department.

The two reservoirs are the keys to municipal water supplies in much of the region.

"It's important to remember that the upper and the lower river are indifferent conditions," Zunino said.

She said the council's resolution was the first step in a drought plan than begins with voluntary conservation and, if needed, progresses to mandatory restrictions. If Lake Sonoma falls below 100,000 acre feet, for example, mandatory reductions stepping up to 30, 40 or even 50 percent are possible, she said.

Other measures such as charging residents more for water and even rationing are available, she said.

The outreach efforts include radio and print advertisements in English and Spanish reminding people that "There's a drought on. Turn the water off," as well as direct-mail materials.

Other efforts include adding a line to water bills showing how much water is being used per person per day, Zunino said.

People seem to be taking the issue seriously, she said. Inquiries about removing lawns are up sharply and a grey-water workshop later this month is full, Zunino said.

"This shows us that our customers want to help, and they're hearing the message," she said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.)