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Water conservation efforts continue across state, locally

Californians are continuing to heed the call to conserve water, reducing their residential water usage by 28 percent in May, compared to usage in 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

May's conservation was even better than the 26.1 percent water saving reported in the month of April. All together, local water suppliers saved 1.6 million acre feet, enough water to supply eight million people for a year, in the 12 months since mandatory conservation goals began.

“The phenomenal ongoing water conservation by state residents as we enter the hottest summer months clearly shows Californians understand we remain in stubborn drought conditions statewide and that saving water is just the smart thing to do,” said Felicia Marcus, State Water Board Chair.

In Governor Jerry Brown’s April 2015 Executive Order, users of urban water supplies were mandated to reduce water use by 25 percent across California. In May 2015, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring a 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use statewide from June 2015 through February 2016.

The City of Turlock barely missed reaching its new conservation standard of 29 percent, coming in at 27.1 percent in water savings for May. Turlock had been striving to reach a 32 percent reduction since the governor’s mandate was issued, until earlier this year when new standards were set and the goal was dropped down to 29 percent for Turlock.

Other Central Valley cities vary greatly in their ability to meet the new conservations standard.

Some of the better water conscious cities include Manteca, Merced, Patterson and Oakdale, which all came in above their respective conservation standards by between 3.9 and 10.7 percent.

Some cities in the valley still have some work to do including Modesto, Livingston and Riverbank, which all missed their conservation standards between 3.2 and 15.4 percent.

Despite near average rainfall in much of Northern California this past winter, 60 percent of the state remains in severe or extreme drought. Groundwater basins and many reservoirs are badly depleted as the state’s drought grinds into a fifth year.

The City of Turlock is working to increase its water conservation through a number of programs to more effectively use storm water for irrigation and facilities designed for the recycling and repurposing of water for irrigation and residential landscape use are either in place or will be in the near future.

The City also adopted a new landscape water schedule that limits watering to two days a week only and prohibits watering from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving,” said Marcus. ‘While conditions improved for urban California’s water supply with the rain and snow we got last year, we are still largely in drought and saving water can extend urban water supplies off into the future if this next winter is dry again.”