Water conservation efforts were thwarted somewhat in October by higher-than-normal temperatures and the normal reduction in water use that historically occurs during the month.
Statewide water use fell by 22 percent in October compared with the same month in 2013, failing to hit Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 25 percent statewide reduction.
In a report Tuesday in front of the State Water Resources Control Board, officials remained optimistic about the efforts of California residents to cut water consumption. Californians used 27.1 percent less water since June when compared with 2013. The savings totaled 913,851 acre-feet – nearly enough to fill Pine Flat reservoir.
In the coming months, conservation will become more difficult because there typically is less landscaping water use in the winter months.
“It’s harder to keep percentages up in the fall and winter when little outdoor watering takes place,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board. “That’s why savings over the summer were so important. Now, we need to keep finding ways to save water.”
In the Valley, Fresno’s water consumption fell by 21 percent, failing to meet the state-mandated cut of 28 percent. Fresno’s cumulative savings since June is 26.8 percent.
It’s harder to keep percentages up in the fall and winter when little outdoor watering takes place.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman for the state Water Resources Control Board
But city spokesman Mark Standriff said November’s conservation numbers were encouraging.
He credited cooler temperatures and nearly double the amount of normal rainfall for a roughly 30 percent reduction in water consumption. When November’s results are included, the city’s cumulative savings since June will rise to about 27.5 percent, close to the state conservation requirement of 28 percent.
Most communities, including Fresno, cut watering days to once a week at the start of November.
“If you’ve gone to one day a week, great,” Standriff said. “If you can cut watering out altogether, that’s even better.”
Clovis, which also failed to meet the state-required cut in October, made progress in November, said Luke Serpa, the city’s public utilities director.
Clovis is required to cut water consumption 36 percent this year compared with 2013. Through October, the city had conserved 30.7 percent. However, Serpa said, November consumption fell by 36.1 percent.
“I attribute it completely to the wet month,” he said. “We went to one day a week watering and urged customers when it rained not to water at all, and Clovis residents heeded the call.”
If you’ve gone to one day a week, great; if you can cut watering out altogether, that’s even better.
Mark Standriff, Fresno city spokesman
Lemoore is one of seven cities under a state “alternative compliance order,” which requires the city to specifically reduce water consumption by finding the top 25 residential users and industrial/institutional users, said Joe Simonson, the city’s parks and recreation director.
Since it started responding to the state order, the city has edged up closer to the 32 percent conservation target. After August, the city’s cumulative water savings were 19.9 percent. After October, Lemoore’s cumulative water savings had climbed to 25.5 percent when compared with 2013.
Among those who were watering too much, broken sprinklers were found and people started paying more attention to their water use, Simonson said.
“For the most part, folks have been very cooperative,” he said. “They’ve stepped up their own investigations.”
He said city staff will visit those in the top 25 and hopefully as they drop off the list, the city can begin to consult with new customers in the top 25.
“If we don’t see progress, the state has mandated that we schedule six audits per month per offender,” Simonson said. “We’ve dedicated a lot of time for this … it’s an unfunded mandate and has been a bit arduous.”
One reason Lemoore got an alternative compliance order is because city officials showed the state that one-third to one-half of the city’s water goes to industry, which is the major job generator in the city of 25,000.
It’s a small community, people know each other. Let’s just say it has a lot more power in Lemoore than it would in Fresno.
Joe Simonson, Lemoore parks and recreation director
In developing water mandates, the state’s intention was not to affect local economies.
The city also is required to expand conservation efforts through possible rate changes and consumer education.
Overall, the response has been encouraging, possibly because nearly all customers in the top 25 want to avoid having their names published again in local media, as they were earlier this fall.
“It’s a small community, people know each other,” Simonson said. “Let’s just say it has a lot more power in Lemoore than it would in Fresno.”
Nine cities statewide were issued “conservation orders” for failing to meet the state’s conservation standard, while others were issued alternative compliance orders.
Hanford, which is among the lowest-performing communities in water conservation under the state’s rules, was one of eight suppliers in California issued a compliance order two months ago by the State Water Resources Control Board.
The city will improve conservation by raising rates, updating bills to make them easier for customers to understand, and improving public awareness and outreach by adding booths at local shopping malls to make residents more aware of the need to reduce water consumption, city officials said.
But the city has a long way to go. From August through October, Hanford’s water conservation rose from 9.7 percent to 13 percent. The state’s conservation standard for Hanford is 28 percent.
October water savings
Water savings (June-Oct. 2015 vs. 2013)
Est. daily per-capita residential use (in gallons)
Cumulative goal (June-Oct.)
Bakman Water Co.
Pinedale Co. Water Dist.
Source: State Water Resources Control Board