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State Water Board looks to make water conservation practices permanent
Turlock, other local cities surpass February water savings goals

A new plan by the State Water Resources Control Board is in the works to permanently prohibit wasteful practices such as hosing off sidewalks and driveways, overwatering or watering lawns during or within two days of a rainstorm to help California prepare for longer and intensified droughts caused by climate change.

This plan, “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life,” is hoping to promote long-term efficient water use to meet drought preparedness goals. The final plan, which is expected to be released soon, includes making permanent the monthly reporting of water use from urban water suppliers.

“Even with a banner year for winter precipitation, Californians have continued to practice sensible conservation, with a significant drop in water use in the South Coast,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Though our water picture is significantly improved in most of California, we have to maintain our drought memory and shift to planning and action to prepare for the long term. From transitioning to California-friendly landscapes and smart irrigation systems, to reducing leaks and increasing use of recycled water and other measures — we need to keep in motion to face a future with longer and more severe droughts under climate change.”

On Tuesday, the State Water Board announced that urban Californians’ monthly water conservation came in at 25.1 percent in February, which is more than double the 11.9 percent savings last year when state-mandated conservation targets were in place. The monthly savings, which equate to roughly 85,962 acre-feet or 28 billion gallons, were an increase from January’s 20.7 percent savings.

The cumulative statewide savings from June 2015 through February remain at 22.5 percent when compared to the same months in 2013. Since June 2015, 2.6 million acre-feet, or 846.5 billion gallons, of water has been saved, which is enough water to supply more than 13 million people — more than a third of the state’s population — for a year.

As detailed in the State Water Board’s most recent report, the City of Turlock surpassed its 20 percent conservation standard with a 27.4 percent in water savings in February when compared to the same month in 2013. This amount nearly triples last February when Turlock only accumulated a total water savings of 10.2 percent.

Turlock was not the only local urban water supplier to exceed its water savings goal in February, as Modesto also met its 20 percent water conservation standard with 27.8 percent saved and Ceres met its 13 percent water conservation standard with 22.1 percent saved.

According to the State Water Board, February marks the 21st month since over 400 urban water suppliers throughout the state fell under emergency regulation that aimed to increase conservation practices for all Californians. The State Water Board has been requiring water production information from urban water suppliers for 33 consecutive months, following the historic July 2014 board action to first adopt emergency water conservation regulation.