Water & Drought

Is Sacramento slacking when it comes to saving water?

Sacramentans are still saving water, but their conservation efforts have slipped compared with a year ago, suggesting that the relaxation of statewide drought mandates is prompting more consumption.

The Sacramento Regional Water Authority reported Wednesday that area residents reduced water consumption in September by 15 percent compared with the September 2013 baseline.

A year ago, when stiff conservation rules were in effect, the savings rate hit 27 percent.

The results are in line with statewide figures, which show Californians have been using more water since the statewide mandates were lifted June 1. In announcing the statewide results for August, the State Water Resources Control Board said it’s concerned that some municipal agencies are “abandoning their focus on conservation.”

However, Sacramento officials say the September results show that area residents are still saving in spite of the relaxed rules. The regional authority said the latest figures compare favorably with September 2014’s results, when Sacramentans cut their water consumption by 16 percent.

Last year the state ordered urban water agencies to reduce consumption by an average of 25 percent, compared with 2013. After a fairly rainy winter in Northern California, the state responded to complaints from the agencies by adopting a “stress test” approach. Agencies don’t have to reduce consumption at all if they can demonstrate they have enough water to withstand three more years of drought.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

Related stories from Sacramento Bee