Environment & Science

Report: Californians reduce water usage by 7.5 percent

The South Coast Hydrologic Region, which includes Los Angeles County, saw the most modest reductions but has the most residents.
The South Coast Hydrologic Region, which includes Los Angeles County, saw the most modest reductions but has the most residents.
State Water Resources Control Board

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Californians reduced their water consumption in July by 7.5 percent from the same time last year, according to a survey of retail water suppliers by the State Water Resources Control Board. 

The survey results, released Tuesday, were the first since the state adopted emergency conservation regulations in July.

Those regulations restrict overwatering and allow violators to be fined up to $500 a day. They also require monthly reports from water suppliers. 

State officials said 70 percent of water suppliers reacted by implementing mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering - and more will likely do the same in coming months.

"You got a good response to the survey, you got a good response to the implementation of [regulations], and that's just within two weeks," said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Board. "That 70 percent number, we assume, is going to be a lot higher next time."

The reductions are much less than the 20 percent called for by Governor Jerry Brown in January but were an improvement over May numbers, when the state increased its usage over the same time period in 2013. 

"We're going in the right direction, but we still want more, of course," Marcus said.

The South Coast Hydrologic Region, which includes Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego and Orange counties, reduced overall water use by 1.7 percent.

Officials said that figure is misleading, because it doesn't account for the high proportion of the state's population residing in the region. They said daily per capita usage data, due out in October, will likely place Southern California residents much higher in conservation rankings among the state's residents. 

The officials also praised turf-replacement efforts across Southern California, noting more than 7 million square feet of turf was replaced with drought-tolerant landscaping in July. 

Emergency Regulation Conservation Update