Impressive water conservation numbers posted throughout California

By on July 8, 2016
Impressive water conservation numbers posted throughout California

Californians and the State Water Resources Control Board have something to smile about. Water conservation, despite the lifting of mandatory conservation targets in May, remains the thing to do with Californians using 28 percent less water in May than they did in comparison to the same period in 2013.

Water use statewide for the 12-month period ending in May was 24.5 percent lower than the same comparable period in 2013/14.

Local water suppliers have saved 1.6 million acre feet in the 12 months since mandatory conservation goals began – enough water to supply eight million people for a year. Cumulatively, the statewide percent reduction for the past twelve months equates to 1,609,532 acre-feet (524.5 billion gallons). Also noteworthy is the level of compliance for May 2016 with 72 percent of suppliers meeting or within one percentage point of their conservation standards and 16 percent of suppliers within five percentage points of their conservation standard.

“The phenomenal ongoing water conservation by state residents as we enter the hottest summer months clearly shows Californians understand we remain in stubborn drought conditions statewide and that saving water is just the smart thing to do,” State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus said in a written statement.

The recently updated emergency water conservation regulations giving urban water agencies the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability began in June. Water suppliers must demonstrate that they have sufficient supplies to withstand three additional years of continuous drought or take additional measures including mandatory conservation targets. The regulation is in effect through January 2017.

The deadline to submit the “stress test” results and three-year resiliency plans was June 22. While most urban water suppliers and wholesale water providers have submitted materials, the State Water Board staff is following up with a number of suppliers whose submissions appear incomplete or unclear. Once all submissions have been received and are complete, the State Water Board will make them publicly available.

While water suppliers may calculate lower conservation targets, the State Water Board expects that they will continue to promote and achieve water conservation and enforce prohibitions on wasting water first enacted in July 2014. The Board has stated they are prepared to come back in early 2017 to develop new mandatory water restrictions if needed.

Timothy Quinn, executive director for the Association of California Water Agencies also praised the ongoing conservation.

“We applaud Californians for their ongoing conservation efforts during this historic drought. As the latest data from the State Water Resources Control Board makes clear, Californians as a whole are much more efficient water users than they were even a few years ago.

“We expect those water-wise habits to continue even as we transition away from last year’s specific, state-mandated targets to a ‘stress test’ approach that emphasizes local drought preparedness. Due to prudent planning and investments in drought-resilient supplies, many water suppliers can certify they are indeed drought-prepared. (However,) …water agencies continue to promote to the public the need for ongoing conservation and water-use efficiency, while permanently restricting certain wasteful practices such as hosing off driveways and hardscapes.”