Environment & Science

Water saving efforts slipped in April, after drought ended

The east branch of the California Aqueduct, which imports water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The east branch of the California Aqueduct, which imports water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
David McNew/Getty Images

Californians used more water this April than they did in April 2016, according to state data, and that jump in water use came thanks to residents of Southern California. The numbers were released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, which requires urban water districts across the state to report on local water use.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to the state' drought emergency in April, following a wet winter across California. That included lifting the mandatory water conservation limits imposed by the state. The new data represents the first look at water use by Californians after the five-year drought.

In much of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Central Coast areas, residents used less water in April than in the year before. 

INTERACTIVE: Explore water use across California in KPCC's water use tool

Not in Southern California. In the South Coast region, per capita water use was 86 gallons per day. That's a jump from 77 gallons a day the previous year. In the Colorado River area, which includes inland parts of Southern California, daily use jumped to 163 gallons per day, from 127 the previous year.

At a State Water Resources Control Board meeting this morning, state scientist Jelena Hartman said the uptick in use may be due to a relatively dry and warm April in Southern California.

Officials will keep a close eye on Californians' water use during the summer months, which will test whether or not conservation has become a way of life in the state, as officials hope. With California's climate changing, scientists say future droughts could strike more often and be more severe — making conservation a perennial issue.