The State Worker

California government cut water usage 22 percent

With California ravaged by an epic drought, state-run facilities collectively cut water use 22 percent last year, according to government data released Wednesday, although some departments used far more than in 2013.

The overall figure slightly exceeds Gov. Jerry Brown’s order that state departments cut their 2014 water consumption by 20 percent compared with the previous year.

In the months after Brown’s mandate, departments switched out inefficient fixtures, cut back on washing state vehicles, allowed ornamental fountains to go dry and shut off water for landscaping. The Capitol’s grounds turned brown last year and ground crews kept planting beds around the building empty that they usually filled with colorful annual flowers.

The result for the 32 departments covered by the data: Water use dropped to 15 billion gallons, down from 19.4 billion in 2013.

The data released Wednesday divides the 32 departments tracked into two groups: Sixteen that used less water and and 16 that used more.

The Department of Public Health led the way, cutting its water consumption at its two properties in San Francisco and Los Angeles a combined 46 percent to 14 million gallons. The Department of Corrections, the state’s largest agency, cut water use at its 43 prisons, office buildings and other facilities by 18 percent to 7.2 billion gallons.

At the opposite end, seven buildings controlled by the Department of Justice together used 27 million gallons last year, up 103 percent from 2013. Cal Fire used 50 percent more water last year at its 377 properties statewide, but it fought 5,620 fires last year – about 1,000 more fires than its annual average.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.