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California's Water Conservation Declines; State Water Resources Control Board Ups Scrutiny

California's Water Conservation Declines; State Water Resources Control Board Ups Scrutiny

SACRAMENTO, CA - California’s water conservation has fallen 6 percent in the past year, down to 21.5 percent savings, and the State Water Resources Control Board is not taking it lightly. The Board has announced it will now be closely monitoring conservation levels and scrutinizing actions by water suppliers where use has risen dramatically. 

Felicia Marcus, Chair, California State Water Board

"Californians have continued to conserve without top down mandates, but the question is whether we can save enough and keep it up for the long haul,” explained State Water Board Chair, Felicia Marcus. “While last winter’s rains allowed us to ease state mandated conservation, that didn’t mean the drought was over or that local conservation efforts should stop—and we’re looking carefully at the data to see what’s happening where, and why."

Just announced in June, the State Water Board relaxed its guidelines for emergency water conservation regulations to give urban water agencies the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability. According to a press release, water suppliers must demonstrate that they have sufficient supplies to withstand three years of continuous drought or otherwise take additional measures including mandatory conservation targets. That regulation will be in effect through January 2017

“Conservation should be the California way of life," added Marcus. "Some relaxation of conservation in light of the relief we got last winter and other supply conditions is appropriate and expected; abandonment of conservation is not. Saving water now extends local water supplies into an uncertain future, and saves money in the long term on the need to develop additional supplies. In particular, the summer months are the time it’s easiest to save by reducing outdoor irrigation to the minimum needed to water trees and shrubs while letting our lawns go the color of the surrounding hillsides.” 

Other highlights from the Board’s June Conservation Data include:

  • Local water suppliers have saved 1.75 million acre-feet in the 13 months since mandatory conservation goals began
  • Cumulative statewide percent reduction for June 2015 – June 2016 (thirteen months) is 24.2 percent, which equates to 1,752,918 acre-feet (571.2 billion gallons)
  • Statewide water savings for June 2016 was 21.5 percent down from 28.1 percent in May
  • Statewide average R-GPCD for June 2016 was 104.9 gallons; (an 18 percent increase) up from 86.7 R-GPCD in May 2016

If the Board sill finds that restrictions are needed when the regulations end in early 2017, they say they’re ready to again impose new mandatory water restrictions. As the situation in California continues to develop, AndNowUKnow will keeping pumping information your way.

State Water Resources Control Board