A look at Willits, a drought-stricken Calif. town

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WILLITS, Calif. (AP) - 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.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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