Californians Stingy at|the Tap During Drought

     SACRAMENTO (CN) — Californians sweating through another summer of extreme drought managed to conserve water in July, using 20 percent less than in the baseline year of 2013, regulators announced Wednesday.
     While totals dropped slightly from 21 percent savings in June, drought officials called the results encouraging, as July was the second month under recently loosened water restrictions.
     “The statewide July conservation results show that Californians continue to care about their communities and preserving precious water resources for the longer term,” said State Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.
     Since June 2015, the first month of mandatory water restrictions, Californians have combined to save 23.8 percent compared to 2013 totals.
     Marcus noted that while water conservation remains strong across the state, some sections have dropped off 2015’s impressive pace.
     Southern California fell from 28 percent savings in July 2015 to 16 percent in July this year. The average resident used nearly 13 gallons more per day compared to last year.
     “We are watching trends in parts of California that suggest some areas may be easing up more than the improved conditions may warrant, while other areas are continuing to conserve for the long term,” Marcus said.
     Reacting to a late winter stream of El Niño storms, the water board voted in May to eliminate the state’s first-ever top-down water saving mandate for its more than 400 water suppliers. As a result, water suppliers largely decided to drop their conservation standards even in the face of persistent drought.
     The loosened drought orders come as 83 percent of the Golden State still suffers from drought, and 42 percent of the state is in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
     Marcus said regulators will continue to monitor each supplier’s monthly results and that state-mandated drought orders could return.
     “We’ll keep looking closely at the monthly results to determine if we need to step back in with demand-based or other higher conservation standards. But for now Californians have continued to conserve, albeit at a lesser level, having stepped up mightily last year in the face of extreme conditions,” she said.

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