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Top Story: California Water Use Drops 27.3 Percent, Exceeds 25 Percent Mandate For June

Contact: George Kostyrko
gkostyrko@waterboards.ca.gov

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2015

SACRAMENTO – With record-breaking heat throughout much of the State in June, Californians continued to conserve water, reducing water use by 27.3 percent and exceeding Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s 25 percent mandate in the first month that the new emergency conservation regulation was in effect.

182,151 acre-feet of water saved in June 2015“Californians understand the severity of the drought and they are taking action, as shown by the numbers released today,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We didn’t know if the positive showing in May was due in part to cooler temperatures. This report shows that residents knew they had to keep conserving even during the summer heat and they kept the sprinklers off more than they would in a normal year. That’s the right attitude as we head into August and September heat--in the drought of the century with no certain end date.”

Despite being the hottest June on record, California’s urban water suppliers exceeded the statewide conservation goal, saving 59.4 billion gallons (182,151 acre-feet), as compared to the same time in 2013. June conservation efforts put the State on track to achieve the 1.2 million acre‑feet savings goal by February 2016, as called for by the Governor in his April 1 Executive Order.

Water suppliers have made significant Investments in their education and outreach programs to communicate the need to conserve to their customers. June’s enforcement statistics highlight the growing awareness of how water is used locally as a result of these programs. Water suppliers reported that their compliance and enforcement programs saw an almost two-fold increase in the number of complaints of water waste which resulted in a big jump in reported penalties.

Monthly water use reports are required by the emergency water conservation regulation, and are provided to the State Water Board by urban water suppliers. Urban water suppliers are expected to meet, or exceed, their individual conservation standard starting in June and continuing through February 2016. The year 2013 serves as the baseline for determining water savings statewide. The current report is posted here.

June Highlights:

  • The percent of water saved by the State’s large urban water agency suppliers decreased from 29.1 percent in May to 27.3 percent in June, in same-month water use comparisons of 2015 to 2013. June 2015 was the warmest June on record.

  • The amount of water saved in June 2015 (59.4 billion gallons) is six times more than the amount of water saved during the same month in 2014 (9.6 billion gallons), when the State’s voluntary 20 percent conservation goal was in effect.

  • The June 2015 savings are 15 percent of the statewide savings goal of 1.2 million acre‑feet of water needed by February 2016.

  • 265 water suppliers, serving 27.2 million people met or exceeded their conservation standard. Almost 40 percent of all urban water suppliers reduced their water use by 30 percent or more.

See the how the hydrologic regions did for the month of June here.

Local Enforcement Data Indicates Increased Awareness and Response

In April, water suppliers began reporting on their compliance and enforcement efforts to promote conservation and reduce water waste. The June statistics demonstrate community and water supplier commitment to identify and correct wasteful practices:

  • 43,942 water waste complaints were reported statewide (by 371 suppliers), compared with 28,793 complaints reported in May (by 353 suppliers);
  • 35,295 formal warnings were issued for water waste statewide (by 307 suppliers), compared with 36,082 formal warnings in May (by 279 suppliers); and
  • 9,582 penalties were issued statewide (by 52 suppliers), compared with 1,928 penalties issued in May (by 49 suppliers).

By the end of June, four suppliers (one percent) had not imposed mandatory irrigation restrictions, and 19 suppliers (five percent) reported that they still allow outdoor watering seven days a week.

The June urban water supplier enforcement statistics can be found here.

June’s Top Performers

“In normal years, water use rises dramatically in the hot summer months. But this year, during the hottest June on record, Californians proved that that they have the ingenuity and commitment to meet this challenge,” said Marcus. “Agencies have stepped up to the plate to engage with their customers and it shows.  The public knows how bad the drought is, and agencies need to help them know what to do.  Letting lawns go golden, taking shorter showers, and other actions can pay off in greater urban water security in the event of more dry years, but, at the same time, we need to be clear that trees should be watered.”

Dozens of communities achieved conservation levels of more than 30 percent in June 2015. Some of these stand-out communities include: Menlo Park (Bay Area), California Water Service – Antelope Valley (High Desert) and Arvin Community Services District (Tulare Lake Region). These high achievers include both inland and coastal communities, proving that it can be done.

Suppliers demonstrating remarkable performance included:

  • Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley Waterworks District (District #40) - realized a 42 percent reduction in June water use, nearly doubling the 22 percent savings achieved in May. The District has implemented penalties for excessive water use and a drought surcharge to discourage excess water use.

  • San Gabriel Valley Water Company - reduced water use by 35 percent in June, 1.5 times greater than the 23 percent reduction recorded in May. San Gabriel Valley’s Stage 2 drought restrictions and penalties were approved by the California Public Utilities Commission on June 22, 2015.

  • Santa Clara Valley Water District - set a 30 percent savings goal for its service area in March 2015 and 9 of its 11 urban water suppliers, including the San Jose Water Company and the City of San Jose, exceeded the 30 percent goal in June, leading to an overall savings rate of 35 percent for the District.

  • Yorba Linda Water District - implemented Stage 3 of its drought ordinance effective June 1st, creating penalties for excessive water use, and working closely with its cities, homeowner associations, and school districts to curb water use. The result was a 38 percent reduction in use, surpassing its 35 percent reduction achieved in May.

Compliance Statistics

Of the 405 water suppliers reporting, 265 suppliers (65 percent) met, or were within one percent of, their conservation standard; 53 suppliers (13 percent) are between one and five percent of meeting their conservation standard; and 71 suppliers (18 percent) are between five and 15 percent of meeting their conservation standard.

However, there are 16 suppliers (four percent) that are more than 15 percent from meeting their conservation standard. The State Water Board will be contacting all suppliers more than one percent away from meeting their conservation standard and requiring many to provide information about their existing conservation programs and the steps they are taking to boost conservation. The suppliers furthest from meeting their conservation standard will be directed to take additional actions, such as imposing further restrictions on outdoor irrigation and increasing outreach and enforcement. The State Water Board cannot delay in using its enforcement tools to ensure water suppliers reach their mandated reductions.

Background

In his April 1 Executive Order, Governor Brown mandated a 25 percent water use reduction for cities and towns across California. 

In May, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use. The regulation uses a sliding scale for setting conservation standards, so that communities that have already reduced their residential gallons per capita per day (R‑GPCD) through past conservation will have lower mandates than those that have not made such gains since the last major drought.

Each month, the State Water Board compares every urban water supplier’s water use with their use for the same month in 2013 to determine if they are on track for meeting their conservation standard. Local water agencies determine the most cost effective and locally appropriate way to achieve their standard. The State Water Board will work closely with water suppliers to implement the regulation and improve local efforts that are falling short.

California has been dealing with the effects of an unprecedented drought. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.

Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.
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