Californians Reduced Water Use In June By 27.3 Percent

California is in the midst of its fourth straight year of drought, the worst one on record. The majority of the state is in exceptional drought, the worst category. Reservoirs are dangerously low and the dry conditions are causing wildfires across the state. 

Despite the depressing conditions of the drought, there is some good news. In June, Californians reduced water use by 27.3 percent, exceeding Governor Jerry’s Brown’s 25 percent mandate. Californians managed to reduce water use despite June being a month with record breaking heat throughout much of the state. It was the hottest June on record. 

California’s urban water suppliers surpassed the statewide conservation goal, saving 59.4 billion gallons (182,151 acre-feet), compared to June 2013. The water savings during June put California on track to achieve the 1.2 million acre-feet savings goal by February 2016 mandated by Governor Brown in his April 1 executive order. Urban water suppliers are expected to either meet or exceed their individual conservation standard starting in June and continuing through February 2016.

Two ways that Californians have managed to reduce water use is through peer pressure and penalties for water waste. There has been a two-fold increase in the amount of water waste complaints, as reported by water suppliers. That has resulted in an increase in reported penalties. The amount of complaints jumped from May 2013  to June 2015 with 43,942 in June compared to 28,793 in May. The number of penalties also increased with 1,928 in May 2013 and 9,582 in June 2015.

Here are some highlights of the state’s water use:

  • The amount 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.
  • The amount of water saved in June this year (59.4 billion gallons) is six times greater than the amount of water saved during June 2014 (9.6 billion gallons). In 2014, there was a voluntary 20 percent conservation goal in effect.
  • The June 2015 savings are 15 percent of the state’s saving goal of 1.2 million acre feet of water by February 2016.
  • A total of 265 water suppliers, serving 27.2 million, either met or exceeded their conservation standard.
  • Nearly 40 percent of all water suppliers reduced their water use by 30 percent or more.

Some areas did better than others. There were dozens of communities that achieved conservation levels of 30 percent or higher in June 2015. A few that stand out include: Menlo Park in the Bay Area, Arvin Community Services District in the San Joaquin Valley, and Antelope Valley in the High Desert region. Two of the areas are inland where temperatures in June were high. 

Photo: Arun Sakariah