Showers were one of the first things to go when the spring dried up at the Markegard ranch south of Half Moon Bay.
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Forced to rely on trucked-in water, the four children — ages 4, 6, 7 and 12 — now bathe once a week, often sharing the same tub of water.

“The cleanest kid goes first,” said their mother, Doniga Markegard, 33, who on a recent morning soaked her two youngest, daughters Quince and Quill, followed by 7-year-old Larry. “As my grandmother said, ‘Wash your pits and parts, and you’re good to go.’”

The historic statewide drought has struck especially hard along the southern San Mateo County coast. While other parts of the Bay Area are served by big water agencies with steady if shrinking supplies, most of the homes and small farms here, less than an hour’s drive from Silicon Valley, rely on creeks and wells, many of which have stopped flowing.