Numbers released today by the State Water Resources Control Board show that water use ticked up statewide in June, compared to the same months in 2015 and 2016.
But while the state as a whole registered modest gains (5 percent), the Colorado River region — which encompasses dry inland areas in San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial and San Diego counties — saw water use leap twenty percent. That figure was considerably higher than in any other region in the state.
The South Coast region, which includes coastal Southern California, posted a more modest gain of five percent from the previous year. In June, South Coast residents used less than half the water Colorado River residents did, — 98.6 gallons per person per day compared to 202.4.
About half of the state's population lives in the South Coast region. And some districts serving local cities, including Los Angeles, Irvine and South Pasadena, reported less water use per capita this year than in June 2016.
Per capita daily water use across California
|Region||June 2016 gallons||June 2017 gallons||Change from 2016|
|Colorado River||169.9||204.2||20.2 %|
|North Lahontan||133.8||139.7||4.4 %|
|Sacramento River||163.3||170.7||4.5 %|
|San Francisco Bay||79.3||84.1||6.1 %|
|San Joaquin River||138.1||143.8||4.1 %|
|South Coast||94.4||98.6||4.4 %|
|South Lahontan||145||136.3||-6.0 %|
|Tulare Lake||167||183.6||9.9 %|
Data shows residential water use as reported to SWRCB
At the Coachella Valley Water District, which serves more than 300,000 people, consumption rose by more than 50 gallons per person per day from June 2016 to June 2017.
Katie Evans, who oversees conservation efforts at the agency, said the drought-busting winter has changed people's mindsets. "When the drought was in place and it was a constant barrage of messages, you couldn’t help but be concerned about your water use," Evans told KPCC. That changed when the drought was declared over in April, she said.
Evans cautioned against reading too much into a single months' numbers, saying the bigger picture continues to show reduced water use across the Coachella Valley.
That's the line from state officials as well, who stress that while water use has ticked up, it remains below the levels before the drought emergency was declared in 2014.