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City of Turlock comes close to meeting September water savings goal
Water Board considers return to state-mandated conservation
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The City of Turlock fell just short of its water conservation goal in September as the State Water Resources Control Board continues to contemplate whether or not to return to state-mandated conservation as California heads into a possible sixth drought year.


As detailed in the State Water Board’s most recent report, the City of Turlock barely missed its conservation target of 20 percent with 19.4 percent saved in September.


“City of Turlock customers are continuing to put forth an effort in conserving water with conservation at a 16 percent decrease in August and a 19 percent decrease in both September and October,” said Director of Municipal Services Michael Cooke. “Our average reduction for 2016 is 22.3 percent.


“It is typical to see a decrease in conservation as the cooler months arrive and customers turn off their landscape irrigation systems. With 30 to 60 percent of water use being outdoors, once irrigation systems are turned off, there is a limited amount of water that can be conserved indoors,” continued Cooke.


Under the State Water Board’s revised emergency water conservation regulations, urban water agencies had the ability earlier this year to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability. Water suppliers had to document that they have sufficient supplies to withstand three years of continuous drought or take additional measures that include state-imposed mandatory conservation targets.


Turlock’s water conservation goal was reduced from 29 percent to 20 percent in May based on the city’s “stress test” results.

The City’s winter watering schedule went into effect at the beginning of this month 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.


“The City of Turlock remains diligent in making water conservation a priority,” said Cooke.


Urban Californian’s monthly water conservation was 18.3 percent, or 38 billion gallons, in September, up from 17.5 percent in August, but below the 26.2 percent savings in September 2015 when state mandated conservation targets were in place.


Cumulative statewide savings from June 2015 through September 2016 was 23 percent, compared with the same months in 2013. Since June 2015, 2.15 million acre-feet of water has been saved — enough water to supply more than 10 million people, or more than one-quarter the state’s 38 million population, for a year.


Although October storms in Northern California provided an encouraging state to the 2016-2017 water year, which began in October, planning for the possibility of another dry winter is essential. The State Water Board will continue to monitor conservation levels and water supply conditions, and staff will develop a proposal for extended emergency conservation regulations in January 2017. The proposal may include a return to state-mandated conservation if dry conditions prevail.


“I am glad to see the slide stop, and even reverse a bit overall, especially as we move into traditionally lower water-use months when we would expect percentages to drop significantly,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Overall, we’re happy to see millions of Californians and many water agencies continue significant conservation. Conversely, we’re concerned to see some agencies return to using hundreds of gallons per person per day while saving little. Whether it’s because we know we don’t know what the weather will bring this season, or because it is just the smart thing to do, we need to keep conserving.”