Californians Remain|Stingy at the Tap

SACRAMENTO (CN) — Californians cut water use by 26 percent in April and surpassed mandatory drought conservations orders despite another month of below-average rainfall, officials said Monday.
     The announcement came as the California State Water Resources Control Board prepares to remove stringent statewide conservation laws in favor of a more relaxed, localized approach that allows cities to set their own drought targets.
     Officials stressed that despite the impressive statewide water savings and the scaled-back drought laws that take effect this month, Californians need to continue saving water and, most importantly, starving their lawns.
     “The best way to keep up conservation is by putting our lawns on a water diet so they turn golden brown like the surrounding hillsides,” said water board chairwoman Felicia Marcus.
     April was the 11th month under California’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the state’s stubborn drought. Since June 2015, Californians have reduced water use from 2013 levels by 24 percent : enough water to supply 7.2 million residents for an entire year.
     The impressive statewide efforts combined with a wet winter caused the water board to reevaluate statewide restrictions and allow cities and suppliers to take more control over their water supplies.
     In May the water board approved a “trust and verify approach,” which requires California’s more than 400 urban water suppliers to self-certify their water supplies and maintain a minimum three-year supply. The first results from the relaxed program are expected at the end of July, the water board said.
     Marcus reiterated that the regional approach is an experiment that could be replaced with statewide restrictions again if suppliers do not comply with the order or if the drought intensifies.
     “This is a serious requirement which we expect them to take seriously,” Marcus said during a media call.
     Nearly 60 percent of the state remains in severe drought, with more than 33 million Californians living in drought areas.

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