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State Water Board contemplates return to state-mandated conservation
City of Turlock falls short of October water savings goal
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The State Water Resources Control Board is slated to consider a proposal next month that could include a return to state-mandated conservation targets as urban water suppliers continue to strive to meet their water savings goals under persistent drought conditions.


As detailed in the State Water Board’s most recent report, which was released Tuesday, the City of Turlock just missed its conservation goal of 20 percent with 18.9 percent saved in October.


“Despite the welcome rainfall, we had some protracted warm and dry periods in October. This meant that residents continued to water their yards which was reflected in the City of Turlock’s 19 percent water conservation total for October, which fell 1 percent short of the 20 percent target,” said Director of Municipal Services Michael Cooke. “The City’s preliminary conservation total for November, however, is much better, coming in at approximately 30 percent. This is likely a result of the increased enforcement and the wet weather experienced in November. 


“We encourage our residents to turn off their sprinklers at this time of year given the rainfall and lower temperatures. However, if our customers still feel the need to water, they are restricted to one day per week,” continued Cooke.


The City’s winter watering schedule went into effect at the beginning of November and continues through Feb. 28. Under the winter schedule, the City limits outdoor watering to one day per week — either Saturday or Sunday, depending on the address of the residence. Along with limited outdoor watering, the City also has two part-time water conservation employees who work various hours of the day, including weekends, to ensure residents are complying with the watering schedule.


California’s monthly water conservation was 19.5 percent, or 36.3 billion gallons, in October, up from 18.3 percent in September, but below the 22.3 percent savings in October 2015 when state-mandated conservation targets were in effect.


Cumulative statewide savings from June 2015 through October 2016 was 22.8 percent, compared with the same months in 2013. Since June 2015, 2.26 million acre-feet of water has been saved — enough water to supply more than 11 million people, or more than one-quarter the state’s 38 million population, for a year.


Although October and November rains in Northern California provided encouraging precipitation to the 2016-2017 water year, 73 percent of the state remains in drought conditions. The State Water Board will continue to monitor conservation levels and water supply conditions, and will consider a staff proposal to extend emergency conservation regulations in January. The proposal may include a return to state-mandated conservation targets if dry conditions return or if conservation levels slip significantly.


“Californians’ continued commitment to conservation shows they don’t take water for granted anymore,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “With climate change playing an increasingly disruptive role, we need to save where we can, when we can. Coupled with recycling, storm water recapture and other measures, it will extend our local water resilience.


“It’s good to see improvement in conservation in areas that had slipped, particularly in Northern California, whether that was because of rain or other reasons, even though they have better supplies than in previous years,” added Marcus.