SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com/AP) — Californians continued to conserve water in June as a record-breaking heat wave swept throughout much of the state, officials said Thursday.
Residents reducing water use by over 27 percent, exceeding Governor Jerry Brown’s 25 percent mandate in the first month that the new emergency conservation regulation (PDF) was in effect.
Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley Waterworks District was among the state’s top performers in June, achieving a 42 percent reduction in water use – nearly doubling the 22 percent savings achieved in May.
The district has implemented penalties for excessive water use and a drought surcharge to discourage excess water use.
Brown also recognized the San Gabriel Valley Water Company for its accomplishment of reducing water use by 35 percent in June, 1.5 times greater than the 23 percent reduction recorded in May.
The agencies that met or came within 1 percent of their mandatory water conservation target serve 27 million Californians.
“The June numbers tell a story of conscious conservation, and that’s what we need and are applauding today,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the water board. “We need to save as much as possible. That is water essentially in the bank for a future dry year or more.”
Brown previously ordered an overall 25 percent reduction in urban water use compared to 2013 levels. His administration gave each community nine months to hit assigned conservation targets as high as 36 percent.
The water board says it will contact every agency that didn’t come close to its targets and ask for more information about what it’s doing to conserve. The worst performers will be told to ramp up water waste enforcement or limit the number of days residents can water lawns.
Water waste enforcement also shot up drastically in June. Agencies issued more than 9,500 penalties compared to about 1,900 in May.
June was the month conservation went from a polite request to a demand by the governor to let lawns go brown, take shorter showers and implement other measures. Programs in Southern California offering millions of dollars to residents who rip out lawns have been exhausted.
State regulators assigned conservation targets between 8 and 36 percent. Water savings are compared to 2013, the year before Brown declared a drought emergency.
Meteorologists say a wet California winter is increasingly likely as a strong El Nino condition builds in the Pacific Ocean, although it’s unclear if it will be a drought-buster.
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