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City braces for water shortage this summer

Petaluma water experts are laying the groundwork for a drought emergency come summertime, but stopped short of calling for residents to begin conservation measures this winter.

In a two-hour City Council workshop on the city's water supply and delivery system, Public Works Director Dan St. John laid out the status quo and explored potential measures the council may want to take to assure a safe and sure water supply for Petaluma's 60,000 residents.

As the driest period in decades continues, officials throughout Sonoma County are beginning an aggressive campaign to encourage residents to watch their water habits before the hot, even drier summer months.

Santa Rosa ended 2013 with just 8.71 inches of rain, according to Press Democrat records, compared to an average annual rainfall of 32.22 inches. According to Sonoma County Water Agency data, last year was the driest in 119 years of record keeping.

Lake Mendocino, a primary source of drinking water for the North Coast that also feeds the Russian River water supply system, is critically low.

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