California Water Reduction Mandates Are Working

(CN) – California cut its water use by 29 percent in May compared to two years ago – the state’s biggest savings since the tracking began.
     Residential water use declined statewide by 28.9 percent in May, meeting the 25 percent reduction mandate Gov. Jerry Brown issued in April, the State Water Resources Control Board said Wednesday.
     May’s savings are up significantly from the 13.6 percent cuts made statewide in April.
     Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said the data show “more Californians are stepping up to help make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought.”
     Marcus said residents need to continue to reduce their water use, since no one knows when the state will get any more rain or snow.
     “If the drought continues beyond this year, we’ll all be glad we did,” Marcus said.
     Water savings are compared to the same month in 2013, the year before the governor declared a drought emergency.
     Statistics for May indicate that water suppliers are following up on water waste complaints and issuing warnings and penalties to violators.
     Statewide, 36,159 warnings and 1,786 penalties were issued for water waste.
     In May, only 60 water agencies placed no restrictions on the number of days customers were allowed for water, down from the 97 agencies in April that allowed outdoor watering seven days a week.
     “It is clear from this report that many communities have made a commitment as Californians to scale back outdoor watering and conserve – and the efforts shows,” Marcus said. “The hot summer months are here. Californians are creative. We can fix the leaks, let the lawn go brown, and take shorter showers while using just enough water to save trees and prevent disease.”
     Under the governor’s mandate, water districts were placed into one of eight reduction tiers, based on water reduction results from last summer. Agencies were given reduction goals ranging from 8 percent to 36 percent compared with 2013 levels.
     June will be the first month that the more than 400 water suppliers that submit conservation data will be expected to meet or exceed standards in their conservation tier.
     Many cities and water districts have accelerated conservation efforts and surpassed their goals.
     Some of the biggest water-saving communities in May included the Lake Hemet Municipal Water District in Riverside County and the town of Hillsborough in San Mateo County, both with 49 percent reductions, and the Sacramento Suburban Water District with a 45 percent reduction.
     In May, Folsom began a comprehensive rebate program for its water customers and achieved a 38 percent savings in water use, exceeding its 32 percent conservation standard. This month, the city plans to reduce watering in parks by 33 percent, remove turf and retrofit irrigation in more than 30 medians.
     Fresno achieved 33 percent savings in May, surpassing its 28 percent conservation standard. The Fresno City Council changed the spring and summer watering schedule to start two months later and changed watering times to run between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
     The Santa Margarita Water District, which had been averaging only 3 percent savings over the past 11 months, cut its water use by 18 percent in May. For June through August, the district will limit outdoor watering to no more than three days and 36 minutes total per week.

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