Increased water use statewide could lead to mandatory restrictions

Conservation declines by more than one-third in August compared to last year

A recent dramatic drop in water conservation statewide could lead to a renewal of state-imposed mandatory water restrictions, according to California water officials.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced that conservation efforts for August 2016 dropped to 17.7 percent statewide, compared to 27 percent from August 2015, which is a decline of roughly 35 percent.

Water conservation dropped so steeply in some areas that state-mandated conservation measures could return by next year, according to board officials.

"While last year's rain and snow brought a respite for urban California, we are still in drought and we can't know what this winter will bring," board chair Felicia Marcus said in a statement.

Water officials are trying to determine a reason for the drop, with Marcus suggesting that in some cases it might be due to a lack of public outreach by some of the local water agencies and in some cases local agencies might be abandoning conservation programs altogether.

"The statewide August conservation results raise questions, and we are examining the data to understand why some areas slipped more than others," Marcus said.

The state's conservation rates are calculated based on water use baselines that were established in 2013, before the current drought really took hold.

A few Bay Area communities were singled out by the board for surpassing the state conservation average, including the Alameda County Water District, the Contra Costa Water District, the city of Hayward and the San Jose Water Company.

Some areas, including Daly City and East Palo Alto, saw a small percentage savings overall but continued to maintain low per-capita residential water use.

"The Bay Area traditionally has the lowest residential gallon usage per day," said board spokesman George Kostyrko.

A few of the local water districts that dropped from savings rates of more than 20 percent last year to single-digit rates this year include the Casitas Municipal Water District, the cities of Folsom and La Habra, the water districts that serve Malibu and Mountain House and the South Lake Tahoe Public Utilities District, according to board officials.

"We're urging (water districts) where we've seen a precipitous drop in conservation to reach out to high-use customers and urge them to conserve," Kostyrko said.

The state stopped requiring a 25 percent water savings rate in June, when conservation measures became voluntary.

— Kiley Russell, Bay City News Service

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10 people like this
Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Oct 7, 2016 at 6:25 am

Did anyone stop and consider the impact of all the new medium and high density housing that is being built in areas like Dublin and Livermore? I can't save enough water to compensate for all the new customers that are being added to the system.

Like this comment
Posted by Xin Han
a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

Long term resident - you sound like a Trump supporter, feel sorry for you.

You were a new resident to this area too, unless you sprung out of the ground.

More folks wanting to move here adds to the vibrancy and let's figure out smart ways to use our resources.

2 people like this
Posted by GMLetts
a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Some may say vibrancy, many say traffic...

2 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Xin Han apparently has extraordinary powers of perception, in order to divine political persuasions from statements related to water usage. Perhaps he/she can share some stock tips or lottery numbers with us?

It is not surprising to me that water usage has crept back up. Some aspects of water conservation are easy to maintain, especially effort that are basically the avoidance of waste. But many people reduced their yard/lawn irrigation in 2014 and 2015 down to the point of damaging their landscaping, and are now watering enough to maintain their lawns - still lower usage than in 2013, but not as draconian as 2015. And saving shower water in buckets, and "if it's yellow, let it mellow" were not long-term answers.

In the end, if we are going to keep on building housing for more people, we need actual infrastructure improvements, such as more water storage capacity. Some of these infrastructure projects can also be conservation-oriented, such as adding the piping for "gray water" usage in irrigation. But generally speaking, more people means more water needed.

Like this comment
Posted by Trump supporter
a resident of Danville
on Oct 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

Lefties that decried McCarthy tactics are reincarnated as neo McCarthyites in search of Trump supporters to out and then discredit. Next Xin will try to get long term resident fired. It's happening, folks. Guess "vibrancy" excludes Trump supporters.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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