Sacramento region cuts overall water use 18 percent

The Sacramento region as a whole has made strides to accommodate this year’s severe drought, cutting overall water use 18 percent compared with the past two years, according to the Regional Water Authority.

That figure applies to overall water use across the region from February through May. The findings come from a review of water-use data and conservation information collected from local water agencies, accounting for more than 90 percent of customer accounts in the area.

“Clearly, residents have heard the call to conserve and have taken action,” John Woodling, executive director of the authority, said in a statement. “They absolutely deserve to be commended.”

The Regional Water Authority is a joint powers authority formed in 2001 to promote collaborative water management in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties. Its board of directors includes more than three dozen people representing water agencies throughout the region.

On Monday, the authority reported that the region consumed 30.2 million gallons of water from February through May this year, compared with the average over the same period in 2012 and 2013, which was about 37 million gallons. This works out to a water savings of 18.4 percent. Add in 2011, when the region consumed 32.1 million gallons, and the savings drops to 15 percent compared with the three-year average.

The authority’s board of directors on Jan. 9 passed a resolution urging member agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent. One week later, Gov. Jerry Brown passed a drought emergency declaration calling on every Californian to do the same.

Although the Sacramento region appears close to that 20 percent goal, the authority declined to release data for individual water agencies in the area, saying its role is only to “aggregate the data on a regional basis.” The conservation performance of an individual water agency and its customer base could be different from the 18 percent overall figure. In addition, each has slightly different conservation targets due to its own unique supply situation.

For example, El Dorado Irrigation District, which serves communities from El Dorado Hills to Pollock Pines, has called for 30 percent conservation. But as of June 10, customers were achieving only 6 percent conservation, and for most of April they consumed more water than the average over the past three years.