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Increased water use statewide could lead to mandatory restrictions

 

A recent dramatic drop in water conservation statewide could lead to a renewal of state-imposed mandatory water restrictions, according to California water officials.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced that conservation efforts for August 2016 dropped to 17.7 percent statewide, compared to 27 percent from August 2015, which is a decline of roughly 35 percent.

Water conservation dropped so steeply in some areas that state-mandated conservation measures could return by next year, according to board officials.

"While last year's rain and snow brought a respite for urban California, we are still in drought and we can't know what this winter will bring," board chair Felicia Marcus said in a statement.

Water officials are trying to determine a reason for the drop, with Marcus suggesting that in some cases it might be due to a lack of public outreach by some of the local water agencies and in some cases local agencies might be abandoning conservation programs altogether.

"The statewide August conservation results raise questions, and we are examining the data to understand why some areas slipped more than others," Marcus said.

The state's conservation rates are calculated based on water use baselines that were established in 2013, before the current drought really took hold.

A few Bay Area communities were singled out by the board for surpassing the state conservation average, including the Alameda County Water District, the Contra Costa Water District, the city of Hayward and the San Jose Water Company.

Some areas, including Daly City and East Palo Alto, saw a small percentage savings overall but continued to maintain low per-capita residential water use.

"The Bay Area traditionally has the lowest residential gallon usage per day," said board spokesman George Kostyrko.

A few of the local water districts that dropped from savings rates of more than 20 percent last year to single-digit rates this year include the Casitas Municipal Water District, the cities of Folsom and La Habra, the water districts that serve Malibu and Mountain House and the South Lake Tahoe Public Utilities District, according to board officials.

"We're urging (water districts) where we've seen a precipitous drop in conservation to reach out to high-use customers and urge them to conserve," Kostyrko said.

The state stopped requiring a 25 percent water savings rate in June, when conservation measures became voluntary.

Earlier story: Cal Water gives a state-of-the-drought update.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

We could do with far less hectoring and nagging from state water officials who think they know best about how water should be used.

What we could use instead is a single rate for water that balances supply and demand. Drought year? Water gets expensive. It's as simple as that.


7 people like this
Posted by @Woodside: Emerald Hills
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm

"We could do with far less hectoring and nagging from state water officials who think they know best about how water should be used."

Except that if left on their own, *certain* people in the state of California would consume all the water available, and leave nothing for the rest of us.

"What we could use instead is a single rate for water that balances supply and demand."

ONLY if we can tie it to income, so that, for example, residents of a certain neighborhood in Woodside would pay far more than residents in, say, Santa Clara.

After all, fair is fair...


Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

> Except that if left on their own, *certain* people in the state of California would consume all the water available, and leave nothing for the rest of us.

That is a remarkable belief. Why does it not occur for any other commodity?


6 people like this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 6, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Let's consider for a moment that water is a basic human right and not a commodity.( Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly recognizes the human right to water and sanitation and that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to human rights.)

Water is, of course, also essential to agriculture and industry. Potable water is special, limited, often mismanaged, wasted, in the wrong places, and increasingly becoming privatized. There is no simply answer but there is a constellation of answer that can mindfully address complex water issues. Conservation seems entirely sensible. Understanding more about the water resources in California (such as measure how much is pumped from aquifers) seems equally sensible. Economic incentives are frequently use to get more of what is good for the public good and discourage what is not is a proven approach to changing human behaviors.

In my view the State erred in cutting back on water restrictions because they have not addressed other core water issues.


3 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2016 at 12:37 am

Put the mandatory limits back on ... I could not understand why they lifted them


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2016 at 7:52 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

We haven't built any more storage capacity in the last thirty years or more. It's time to stop being cowed by environmentalists that whine every time more storage is proposed. We need more storage now more than ever. In addition, water given to agriculture needs to be better controlled. The state needs to demand farmers use the most efficient forms of irrigation possible and not allow crops such as rice that use a ridiculous amount of water to grow. In addition, we need to look at how much water we're willing to waste simply letting it flow away into the ocean. Are the fish we're trying to preserve really worth that much water? Add conservation to the above and we'll have enough water.


5 people like this
Posted by Ethan
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 7, 2016 at 3:48 pm

"Are the fish we're trying to preserve really worth that much water?"

It's not just about the fish. If substantially more river water is prevented from flowing through the Delta, brackish Bay water will encroach eastward and eventually contaminate the freshwater that is pumped south. As it happens, this is one of the many issues one of our presidential candidates fails to understand on even a fundamental level:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Caitlin Modesto
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

This result is entirely predictable-- I agree that the mandatory limits should have remained. Our feckless state officials bowed to pressure to relieve the limits.

I disagree with the person calling himself or herself Menlo Boter. Water storage capacity is not the primary issue. It could temporarily be if we had a really exceptional year, but that's not likely. The giant San Luis Reservoir off Hwy 152 is only 10% full, and only reached about 50% full this year.

Either demand must be cut or supply increased. The only real way to increase supply is desalination, and that's very expensive and energy hungry.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Sorry Caitlin, but had storage kept pace with demand those reservoirs wouldn't look like they do. We need more storage coupled with conservation or we will end up having to use desal. which is very expensive. Ask the Australians. We Must build more storage and we MUST conserve. Neither is primary, but both are imperative.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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