Mesa Water District eliminates outdoor watering for specific groups
Mesa Water District eliminates outdoor watering for specific groups

Californians increase, continue water conservation to 26.1 percent in April

Reprogramming your automatic sprinklers, limiting the time in the shower, capturing and reusing rain water to hydrate your trees and not water-washing your patio or driveway has all paid off.  Californians have continued to conserve water in impressive numbers throughout the state posting a 26.1 percent savings in April over the same period in 2013.

“Californians continue to demonstrate that they are serious about water conservation, which is fabulous,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “We will be watching closely to make sure that water agencies continue to prioritize the conservation habits their customers have adopted, and don’t fall back into business as usual. In particular we expect them to continue to enforce bans on the worst types of wasteful water use, and to take a prudent approach with their water budgets.”

Although Northern California did see an El Nino effect this year, Southern California and as much as 60 percent of the state remains in a drought.  Whereas some reservoirs in the northern parts of the state are nearly full Southern California reservoirs and depleted aquifers are more the norm.

The State Water Board is urging Californians to continue with conservation measures especially as we move into the hot summer months.

“Summer is when we use far more water than we need to,” Chair Marcus said. “Keeping our lawns on a water diet is the easiest way to save every valuable drop we can in our local reservoirs and groundwater basins for the future. Californians most need to keep up their impressive conservation in the summer months—wherever they are in the state. The fact is that we could be staring down the barrel of continued drought into 2017 and last winter’s rain and snow could just be a punctuation mark in a longer drought.”

Water conservation is still the needed norm in California.  Last month the State Water Board turned the responsibility of determining conservation standards to each local water supplier.  The locally determined “stress test” requires each agency to prove they have sufficient water supplies to withstand three additional years of continuous drought. If an agency is unable to do so they must take additional measures, including mandatory conservation targets. The State Water Board has indicated that if a water agency is unable to voluntarily meet the conservation targets they may still face mandatory enforcement from the board.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. issued an executive order last month banning specific wasteful water uses including hosing off sidewalks, driveways, patios and other hardscapes and watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff.  Additionally, local governments and home owners’ associations cannot take action against homeowners who reduce or cease to water their lawns.

Data supporting April’s conservation efforts reflect increasingly water-wise Californians:

  • Cumulative statewide percent reduction for June 2015 to April 2016 (eleven months) was 24.1 percent, which equates to 1,431,101 acre-feet (466.3 billion gallons).
  • Statewide water savings for April 2016 was 26.1 percent (134,171 acre-feet or 43.7 billion gallons), an increase from March 2016’s 24.3 percent savings.
  • Associated with higher monthly savings, and due to the adjustments and credit included in the extended emergency regulation, April 2016 continued with an increased level of compliance; 71 percent of suppliers met or were within one percent point of their conservation standards.
  • Even with the February 2016 credits and adjustments adopted by the Board to address equity concerns raised by suppliers and customers, conservation levels have remained high, even increasing from March to April.
  • Statewide average water use was 77 residential gallons per capita per day (R-GPCD) for April 2016, up from 66 R-GPCD in March 2016 but below 90 R-GPCD reported for April 2015.

In her on-going call for Californians to save water Chairman Marcus has said, “Conservation must become a California way of life—it’s just the smart thing to do with a precious resource.”

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