Californians have reduced water use by 26.3 percent in the six months since emergency conservation regulations took effect in June, continuing to meet Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s 25 percent mandate despite a decline in the statewide water-savings rate for the last two months.
In November, when outdoor water use dramatically drops, the statewide conservation rate was 20.3 percent, down from 22.3 percent in October. In contrast, average statewide water use declined from 87 gallons per person per day in October to 75 in November – the lowest observed since the Water Board’s emergency regulation went into effect.
The percentage drop was expected in the cooler fall and winter months when we use less water in general. The fact that per person water use dropped to 75 gallons per person per day on average is proof that Californians are clearly thinking twice before turning on the tap. As welcome as recent rain and snow are, we’ve been in such a deep drought that we won’t know until spring whether we can let up on conservation.
In November 2015, the Governor issued an additional Executive Order directing the State Water Board to extend and revise the emergency water conservation regulations based on conditions through January.
Now in Jan 2016 is a new proposed framework for the next iteration of the drought emergency water conservation regulation. If passed this is intended to replace the current regulations, set to expire in the middle of next month. Following public review of the framework, staff will release a draft updated emergency regulation for public comment in mid-January. State Water Board consideration of an extended emergency regulation is anticipated Feb. 2.
Despite recent rain and snow, most of California is still experiencing severe drought. Residential water users are urged to keep up their efforts to conserve through the winter months. That includes complying with urban water supplier directives to switch to watering schedules of once a week as well as a prohibition against watering during a rain event and 48 hours directly following a rain event.