Conservation Figures Hold Steady While Agencies Work Toward Long-Term Efficiency

Data reported today by the State Water Resources Control Board show that Californians have continued to use water wisely in the past 16 months, with cumulative water savings at 23% compared to the same months in 2013.

Water leaders representing more than 20 agencies joined ACWA Director of State Regulatory Relations David Bolland at the State Water Board meeting, and described their progress in promoting long-term water efficiency and drought preparedness.  

Joel Metzger, conservation coordinator for the Calaveras County Water District, advocated for making a clear distinction between last year’s emergency and this year’s transition to long-term solutions.

“Last year, our customers stepped up in a huge way,” Metzger said, adding that the district has to maintain its credibility to keep that trust. “We can tell them they have to conserve during an emergency, but after that we have to focus on ongoing water efficiency."

Water consultant John Mills, who works with several water districts, agreed that the difference between emergency conservation and long-term efficiency must be understood in order to evaluate water savings.

“During the emergency, many of our residents worked so hard at saving water, they killed their whole yard. They are re-landscaping with native plants, but for two years those will have to be deep-watered,” he said, explaining that permanent water savings will occur once the new plants are established.

Amy Talbot, water efficiency program manager for the ‎Regional Water Authority, commended the State Water Board for focusing on cumulative savings.

“I believe that it’s significant that even in the absence of mandates, people are still saving – but in a way that can be sustained over time,” said Talbot.

Since June of this year, water agencies that have demonstrated they can maintain supply reliability during three additional years of drought have operated under local conservation standards rather than statewide emergency mandates. These agencies have passed a so-called "stress test."

Bolland said that the cumulative water savings shows the wisdom of the stress test approach, “because it focuses on local conditions. There’s a story at every agency.”

ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn issued a public statement, saying ACWA “applaud(s) Californians for doing what we’ve asked: making changes for the long haul. That’s exactly what we need to raise the bar on long-term efficiency and prepare our communities for the inevitable droughts to come. We need to move forward with long-term water-use efficiency that makes sense for Californians.”

See examples of Californians making permanent water use changes.

September 2016 Conservation Data (Source: State Water Board)

  • Statewide water savings for September 2016 was 18.3% compared to September 2013.
  • Cumulative statewide percent reduction for June 2015 to September 2016 (16 months) is 23%, which equates to 2,145,241 acre-feet (699 billion gallons).

The State Water Board continues to work with state partners to craft a long term strategy to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order calling for new water use efficiency targets, permanent prohibitions on water waste, and improved drought planning.  Information about the Executive Order can be found at: http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/conservation/.

Tips on water conservation are available at www.saveourwater.com.

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