With mandatory water use restrictions mostly lifted across the region, Sacramento-area residents are using a lot more water this summer, even as the drought continues, according to a Bee review of state data.
Customers in the four-county region’s 23 largest water districts increased water use by 22 percent from June 2015 to June 2016. Statewide water use increased by 8 percent over the same period, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
All Sacramento-area water districts used more water in June 2016 than during June 2015, though water use was uniformly down compared to 2013.
Though California received more rain last winter than during the last several years, the state remains in drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Almost 60 percent of the state is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought, including much of the Sacramento region.
June marked the first month that the state allowed agencies to “self-certify” whether they had enough water to survive three more dry years. All agencies in the Sacramento region stated that their water supplies are adequate and that mandatory water restrictions are unnecessary.
Some local communities continue to conserve more water than others. The cities of Sacramento, Davis and Galt each increased water use by less than 13 percent from June 2015 to June 2016. Suburban water districts aren’t doing as well. The Fair Oaks Water District, the cities of Lincoln and Roseville and the Sacramento County Water Agency all increased water use by at least 30 percent.
The biggest outlier in the region is the San Juan Water District, which covers Granite Bay and neighboring communities. Its customers increased water use by 56 percent from June 2015 to June 2016, the highest rise in the state. San Juan and other suburban water districts feature many housing lots with large lawns, suggesting that suburban water users increasingly have turned their sprinklers back on after years of enduring brown grass and lawn watering restrictions.
State officials said this week they will carefully track water use increases during the coming months and possibly revisit mandatory restrictions if the drought persists and some agencies flout conservation efforts.
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