A look at Willits, a drought-stricken Calif. town
- Associated Press
- February 6, 2014 - 12:00 PM
WILLITS, Calif. — The Northern California town of Willits is one of 17 rural areas that face a severe water shortage. The California Department of Public Health says the town has less than 100 days of drinking water left.
LOCATION: Mendocino County, Northern California.
POPULATION: About 5,000.
CLAIM TO FAME: Final resting place of the racehorse Seabiscuit; also known as the "Gateway to the Redwoods." Willits hosts the annual "Frontier Days & Rodeo," which is billed as the "oldest continuous rodeo and Independence Day celebration in California."
ECONOMY: The town once had a thriving sawmill industry but now has only one left. Its other major industrial employer, Remco Hydraulics, closed in 1995 and left behind a polluted factory site that resulted in years of environmental litigation. Highway 101 cuts through the city's downtown, so new restaurants and boutiques have created some service jobs.
RAINFALL: Average is 51 inches, with historic high of nearly 92 inches in 1983; from July 1, 2013, to year's end Willits received about 5 inches.
WATER RESTRICTIONS: Residents are restricted to 150 gallons per day, per household of four; businesses are required to reduce usage by 35 percent. The city has restricted lawn watering and car washing, and restaurants are providing water only upon request.
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