For the first time since California’s emergency drought rules took effect, the state failed to reduce its monthly water consumption by 25%, regulators said Tuesday.The state cut its urban water use in October by 22.2%, compared with the same month in 2013, officials said.
That effort fell below the 26.1% savings in September and marks the only month that Californians have fallen short of their target since compliance became mandatory in June. But because local water suppliers conserved so much during the summer, the state’s cumulative savings remain above the level ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown. Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >>
Officials say the savings was about what they hoped it would be during an unusually hot October.”I was relieved,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “That indicates continuous, conscious efforts by Californians — they haven’t eased up.”In order to successfully slash their water consumption by 25%, the water board assigned conservation “standards” to each of the state’s 411 urban suppliers earlier this year.Suppliers with a history of high per-capita water use were ordered to cut as much as 36% off 2013 totals. Suppliers with a history of lower consumption were told to cut as little as 8% or, in rare cases, even 4%.Water use tends to be lower in the winter than in the summer because people use less outdoors when it rains and temperatures cool. With less water being used, officials say there is less to cut.Therefore, some water managers had worried that it would hard for their districts to achieve big savings in months such as October. Others have said they are already resigned to failure; they are sure they will not be able to boost their savings enough during the wetter winter months. State regulators have acknowledged that it will be difficult for laggard water suppliers to catch up to their conservation targets by February, when the current emergency regulation expires.On Nov. 13, Brown issued a new executive order extending the mandatory water cuts if the drought continues through January.At a public workshop next week, local water officials will get a chance to tell regulators how they would like them to modify the rules and conservation targets. The board has already begun …Read More
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