A year ago, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered urban districts to meet conservation standards or face penalties. The board hoped to achieve 25 percent water savings statewide compared to 2013.
The results for the last year are in: Between June 2015 and May 2016, the state's urban users cut water use by 24.5 percent, including a 28 percent reduction in water use in May.
"We saved one drop in four," said water board member Steven Moore. "That's a significant achievement in our state."
While the state's residents nearly met their goal of 25 percent savings, residential water use is a small part of the state's water consumption. About 80 percent of water used by humans in California goes to agriculture; that means cutting residential use by one quarter results in about a 5 percent reduction in human water use overall.
May marked the last month most water districts will face mandatory conservation targets. A new directive from the water board allows districts to set their own conservation standard based on anticipated need if the drought continues. The board has not yet compiled and released those new standards.
This graphic shows water conservation results in the state's 100 largest districts. It is color coded based on percent reduction in water use from June 2015 to May 2016 as compared to 2013. Districts were given different water conservation targets based on how much water they used per capita before the drought. Districts along the coast tend to have smaller lawns, making it harder to cut use merely by turning off sprinklers.