Water & Drought

Sacramento water savings slipped in September

Steve Ries and his great-granddaughter show the drought-tolerant landscaping in front of Ries’ Roseville home. Area water agencies are ramping up conservation efforts to meet statewide water-usage targets.
Steve Ries and his great-granddaughter show the drought-tolerant landscaping in front of Ries’ Roseville home. Area water agencies are ramping up conservation efforts to meet statewide water-usage targets. Sacramento Bee file

Greater Sacramento’s water savings tailed off in September, with area agencies reporting a 27 percent drop in consumption compared with 2013, the Regional Water Authority said Thursday.

While the savings for September were still higher than Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate of a statewide average reduction of 25 percent, they fell short of the savings the Sacramento area must achieve through next February in order to comply with the governor’s order.

The city of Sacramento, notably, saw 26.5 percent savings in September, the first month in which conservation has fallen below the city’s 28 percent mandate. City officials urged residents to voluntarily cut back outdoor watering to once a week instead of twice through the rest of October. Mandatory once-a-week limits on watering will take effect as scheduled Nov. 1, said city spokeswoman Rhea Serran.

Each agency in California must meet different targets, based on historical residential per capita water consumption, and most agencies in hot inland areas such as Sacramento must exceed the 25 percent threshold.

In total, the Sacramento region must cut water use by 30 percent through next February compared with 2013, although the requirement is cumulative. Agencies aren’t required to hit those marks each and every month.

Savings in greater Sacramento totaled 34 percent from June through September, the first four months of mandatory conservation ordered by the governor, said Amy Talbot, the Regional Water Authority’s water efficiency program manager. Before September, the savings rate was 36 percent.

Talbot said she thinks Sacramentans overall are continuing to do a good job of conserving water. She said it wasn’t surprising that the conservation rate diminished with cooler weather setting in; it’s harder to keep up the same conservation rate because residents are mostly confining their water consumption to indoors.

“This is what we anticipated,” she said. “Usually, savings drop in the fall and winter. That’s why we tried to front-load savings in the summertime.” Because of outdoor irrigation, she said, Sacramentans use about twice as much water in summer compared to the rest of the year.

Talbot said similar trends “will be seen throughout the state.” Statewide conservation figures for September haven’t been released yet.

She said area residents are being urged to cut back on outdoor watering as much as possible this fall and winter. She noted that some agencies have already reduced outdoor watering to one day a week on a voluntary basis.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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