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Local cities fall short in September water saving goals
State Water Board begins to penalize noncompliant water suppliers
. Although water use reduction is stagnant, the City continues to take steps towards meeting its 32 percent conservation mandate. - photo by Photo Contributed

As California continues to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s 25 percent conservation mandate, the City of Turlock continues to be unsuccessful in meeting its own 32 percent requirement with a 26.3 percent overall water use reduction in September.


As part of Brown’s executive order for water use reduction in cities and towns across California, the State Water Resources Control Board compares every urban water supplier’s water use with their use for the same month in 2013 to determine if they are on track for meeting their conservation standard. Urban water suppliers are expected to meet, or exceed, their individual conservation standard starting in June and continuing through February 2016.


The 26.3 percent overall water use reduction for the City is neither an increase nor a decrease from August’s conservation rate, which was also 26.3 percent. Although water use reduction is stagnant, the City continues to take steps towards meeting its 32 percent conservation mandate.


“We’re trying to hit that 32 percent reduction rate that the governor set out in his executive order,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth in October. “We’re struggling, but at the same time we’re doing a great job and we wanted to highlight some exceptional water savers in the community.”


Last month, the City announced its first Water Saving Hero, Covenant Village of Turlock, which reduced its landscape water use by nearly 5 million gallons through making necessary adjustments and repairs to its sprinkler system. 


“It is very, very important for us to be a real asset to the community,” said Covenant Village Executive Director Bob Howell. “They [residents] love to see the green and the beautiful flowers, but we’ve tried to prioritize what is important. That’s what makes the difference.”


Turlock was not the only regional supplier that did not meet its mandate in September. The City of Modesto’s conservation rate took a substantial dip with a 16.4 percent overall water reduction use, which continued Modesto’s downward trend in attempting to meet its 36 percent requirement. In August, Modesto reduced water use by 28.9 percent, which was preceded by a 33.2 percent reduction in July and a 34.1 percent reduction in June.


Despite the success experienced by the City of Ceres in exceeding its 28 percent water conservation mandate for the first time in August by nearly 4 percent, it regressed to 18.9 percent overall water use reduction in September.


For the first time since the SWRCB adopted the emergency regulation in May, the City of Oakdale failed to meet its 32 percent water conservation standard by a slight margin in September with a 31.7 overall water use reduction.


While a significant number of Stanislaus County urban water suppliers failed to meet their conservation standard in September, California was once again able to exceed Brown’s April mandate of 25 percent for the fourth consecutive month with a water use reduction of 26.1 percent.



 “Millions of Californians have saved water during the summer months, which are the four most critical months to save water,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “This is important and wonderful, and we are thankful for all of the effort by individuals and agencies.


“Now, we need to keep it up as best we can, even as we hope for as much rain and snow as we can safely handle. We’re in the position of having to prepare for drought and flooding at the same time, but that’s what we’re faced with,” continued Marcus.


During the four-month period from June to September, the cumulative statewide savings rate was 28.1 percent, which is equal to 777,739 acre-feet or 253.4 billion gallons. This amount puts the state at 65 percent of meeting Brown’s overall goal of conserving 1.2 million acre-feet by February 2016.


Of the 389 water supplier reports that were submitted for September, six were more than 15 percentage points away from meeting their conservation standard.


In response to water suppliers in the state who have “not stepped up in the same way," the SWRCB Office of Enforcement issued enforcement actions against four urban water suppliers that have consistently field to meet their water conservation goals.


The cities of Beverly Hills, Indio, Redlands and the Coachella Valley Water District were issued a complaint for a $61,000 penalty for failing to meet their mandated conservation tier standards. These penalties are based on the Board’s authority to issue fines of $500 per day for violations of its emergency regulation. The Board also has the ability to issue penalties of up to $10,000 per day for violations of a Cease and Desist Order. The Board has not issued any Cease and Desist Orders to date.


“Up and down the state, residents and water suppliers are making the necessary sacrifices needed to help California meets its conservation goals. However, some urban water suppliers simply have not met the requirements laid before them,” said Chris Carrigan, director of the Office of Enforcement. “For these four suppliers, it’s been too little too late to achieve their conservation standard.”