Water & Drought

Sacramento region cut water use 31 percent in recent months

Buoyed by stronger than expected conservation efforts in a warm, dry February, most of the Sacramento region’s water districts continue to hit their state-mandated water-savings goals, according to the regional water agency.

The Sacramento Regional Water Authority said Thursday that the region cut water use by a combined 31 percent from June 2015 through February 2016 compared with 2013 usage. Amy Talbot, the authority’s water efficiency program manager, said despite concerns that conservation would fall off in February, given the unusual warm spell, residents cut use by 18 percent. That was a marked uptick from January when regionwide water-savings totaled 11.5 percent.

“I think we’re going to see an upward trend,” Talbot said. “Usually December, January, February are the lower months in the year for savings.”

Last spring, as the state grappled with historic drought, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency order that required cities and towns to reduce water use an average of 25 percent compared with 2013. Water agencies were assigned mandatory conservation goals, with higher per capita users targeted for deeper cuts.

The Sacramento region typically has among the highest per-capita water use in the state, largely because of summer lawn irrigation. Its water providers were required to meet targets that ranged from 20 percent to 36 percent from June 2015 through February. Violators face potential fines.

Talbot said 20 of the region’s 23 water providers met their state-mandated targets for the period or were within 5 percentage points. The other three were within 6 percentage points, she said. Savings at individual districts won’t be released until later this month.

Talbot described the cumulative savings as a symbolic victory. February marked the end of Brown’s initial conservation order, but regulators recently extended the cuts through October. State regulators say they continue to evaluate water supply and may relax the orders in May.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow