State officials say California cities cut water use by more than 22 percent in December over the previous year, meeting for the first time the goal for water savings set by Gov. Jerry Brown when he declared drought last January.
About 56 percent of the state’s population lives in the South Coast Hydrologic Region, which stretches from Ventura down to San Diego and east toward Riverside. South Coast achieved the third-highest conservation totals, and was one of five regions to beat Brown’s goal in December.
- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power cut water use about 21 percent compared with last December. L.A.'s calculated consumption average, 62 gallons a person a day, helped LADWP earn an honorable mention from water officials – who saved the top tier for districts whose users consumer less than 60 gallons of water a day.
- That top tier included the Eastern Municipal Water District, which provides water to 532,666 users in Riverside County. It reported a 23.5 percent conservation rate, averaging about 58 gallons per person per day.
- The Ventura County city of Camarillo reported a 44 percent drop over its December 2013 use.
- The Colorado River Hydrologic Region, which includes Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Banning and Twenty-Nine Palms, reported saving just over 6 percent of its previous December’s use. The Coachella Valley Water District weighed that number down by increasing water use 2.7 percent in December.
- State officials noted that Southern California largest water wholesaler, the Metropolitan Water District, has received requests for lawn removal rebates covering over 711 acres of land – and, they say MWD has enough money to pay out on all of those requests.
In a presentation Tuesday, staff for the State Water Resources Control Board pointed out that water savings were aided by December’s cool temperatures and abundant rain. Eureka, near key reservoirs in Northern California, saw less than an inch of precipitation in December 2013 but nearly 10 inches in December 2014.
But water officials worry December's conservation gains could be short-lived given the state's bone dry January. Snowpack readings last month were pitiful, and for the first time in its recorded history, San Francisco reported no January rainfall.
“We hope that people will still keep their outdoor irrigation either off or to a minimum as we move through January and February especially if it starts raining this weekend,” said Eric Oppenheimer, who directs the State Water Board's Office of Research, Planning and Performance. “There’s a chance we could see the outdoor conservation numbers erode.”
Later this month, water regulators will consider renewing, modifying or expanding mandatory conservation rules, which are set to expire in April.