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Californians Reduce Water Use By 27 Percent in June

Kelly M Grow
Department of Water Resources
A California resident turns off her faucet while soaping up her hands in order to help save water in Penn Valley, Calif.

Water regulators are praising Californians for reducing their water use by 27 percent in June. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some communities still have a long way to go to meet mandatory requirements.

Statewide, sixteen urban water suppliers are more than 15 percent away from meeting their conservation target. That’s the worst in the state. Max Gomberg with the State Water Resources Control Board says those suppliers face state-ordered conservation measures and could face fines. Communities have been given nine months starting in June to cut water use between 4 and 36 percent compared to 2013 levels.

Gomberg: “If they’re off their mark through the summer when the greatest volume of water savings is possible, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for them to make that up.”

The Rancho California Water District in Temecula only achieved 14 percent savings even though they have a 36-percent target. But Meggan Valencia with the district says she expects that to change, when people see a change in their tiered-pricing rates.

Valencia: “A lot of times customers don’t make changes until they get that first bill in hand which customers are just starting to get those bills now.”

The majority of suppliers met or came within one percent of their requirement. The City of Santa Barbara tripled its conservation rate. Water conservation coordinator Madeline Ward says the city got some rain in June but people there are reminded of the drought every day.

Ward: “We have our local water supply quite visible to our community because our main source is our local reservoir, Lake Cachuma, and people see the water level consistently dropping and dropping over the past couple of years.”

Urban water suppliers issued almost 10-thousand penalties to water wasters statewide in June. The state has also launched a new website that allows reporting of suspected leaks and water waste anywhere in the state. You can drought-shame at savewater.ca.gov.