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With less than 100 days' water in storage, rural California town grows anxious about future

  • 038bb2cb371105054b0f6a7067008075.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. Despite recent spot rains The reservoir is currently only about 37 percent full. California remans in the midst of an historic drought causing Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

  • 6592cf8f371105054b0f6a7067007b75.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. Despite recent spot rains The reservoir, located in Mendocino County is currently only about 37 percent full. California remans in the midst of an historic drought causing Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

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    In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, Forrest Clark, 25, loads five gallon bottles of water, purchased at a local store, into his car in Willits, Calif. With local reservoirs holding less than a 100-day supply of water, city leaders have banned lawn watering, car washing and mandated all residents to cut water use. Clark, who said he doesn't like the taste of the local water, buys 10-15 gallons of bottled water a week to help boost the family water supply.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

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    In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, Charles Davison, a retired high school principal, installed a pump on a unused well on to help supplement his household water supply at his home in Willits, Calif. In the midst of an historic drought and area reservoirs holding less than a 100-day supply of water, Willits city leaders have banned lawn watering, car washing and have asked restaurants to serve water only upon request.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

  • 5195f898371205054b0f6a706700f6b5.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, a sign outside a market in Willits, Calif., reminds passerby's about about the short water supply facing area residents. In the midst of a historic drought and area reservoirs holding less than a 100-day supply of water, Willits city leaders have banned lawn watering, car washing and mandated all residents to cut water use. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (The Associated Press)

The logging town of Willits in Northern California's redwood country is dotted with small blue signs urging water conservation, just one of many indications of its dire water shortage.

The city's Centennial Reservoir is less than a third full, and the creek that feeds it has slowed to a trickle as California remains plagued by historic drought conditions. The state's Department of Public Health says 17 rural areas including Willits — a town of about 5,000 — are dangerously low on water.

The emergency is a disruption to everyday life in the Mendocino County locale known as the final resting place of the racehorse Seabiscuit. City leaders have banned lawn watering and car washing, mandated dramatic cuts in water use and asked restaurants to serve it only upon request.

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