Urban Californians used about 1.8 percent more water in October compared with a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. It marked the fourth straight month in which conservation has slipped following the state’s decision to relax drought mandates.
The State Water Resources Control Board said, however, that conservation was better in October than in September, and that it was largely pleased with the efforts Californians were making. “Californians’ continued commitment to conservation shows they don’t take water for granted anymore,” said board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a prepared statement.
All told, Californians used 19.5 percent less water in October 2016 than they did in October 2013, the baseline established by state officials to measure conservation results. The latest results weren’t quite as strong as in October 2015, when savings hit 22.3 percent. But it represented an improvement over September, when consumption shot up by 8 percent.
A year ago, urban water districts were under orders to slash consumption by an average of 25 percent. Those rules were relaxed earlier this year, after a somewhat rainy winter in Northern California, and districts that could show they had a three-year water supply on hand didn’t have to achieve any particular targets.
But as the conservation numbers began slipping, the state board warned it could tighten the rules again. Last week, as part of a long-range conservation blueprint, the board said it’s likely to impose new standards on districts that can’t prove they have at least five years worth of water on hand, instead of three years.