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Sweltering August hinders Turlock water conservation efforts
California exceeds reduction mandate for third straight month
water conservation pic
The City of Turlock has yet to reach its state-mandated water use reduction rate of 32 percent. - photo by Photo Contributed


GOAL: 32% reduction in water use

August 26.3%

July 27.9%

June 19.2


Just as the City of Turlock was inching closer to its 32 percent conservation mandate with a 27.9 percent overall water use reduction in July, hot and dry conditions in August caused the city’s conservation rate to fall back slightly to 26.3 percent, placing the City farther away from reaching its water saving goal.

As part of Gov. Jerry 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.

“August was a very hot month, so we didn’t cut back as much as we had hoped,” said Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke, “but I think overall people are doing very well. I think that 32 percent is an ambitious target.

“They are using numbers from 2013, which was a time when water use was typically lower and we had a cooler summer,” added Cooke.

Cooke said that the City’s winter watering schedule, which only permits watering once a week, is slated to begin on Nov. 1. In the meantime, the City will use a series of educational materials and media outreach efforts to make sure that residents are aware of the upcoming change.

“It does make quite an impact, so this will give people more time to prepare,” said Cooke.

Turlock was not the only city in the region that fell short of meeting its mandate in August, as the City of Modesto continued its downward trend in attempting to meet its 36 percent conservation standard. 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.

Among regional suppliers that either met or exceeded their water conservation standard in August was the City of Ceres, which not only met its 28 percent mandate, but surpassed it by nearly four percent. This marks the first time that the City was able to meet its conservation standard since the SWRCB adopted the emergency regulation in May.

The City of Oakdale once again transcended its 32 percent water conservation standard by nearly 10 percent in August with 41.7 percent in water savings. This is not the first time that Oakdale has drastically surpassed its mandate as June and July both experienced water use reductions of over 40 percent.

While some urban water suppliers continued to struggle to meet their conservation standard in August, California was once again able to exceed Brown’s April mandate of 25 percent for the third consecutive month with a water use reduction of nearly 27 percent.

“Millions of Californians stepped up to save water this summer and we must all keep up the good work because no one knows how much longer this historic drought will continue,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

“With the continued heat, the danger of more wildfires, and no way of knowing when the drought will end, every drop of water that remains in our local reservoirs and aquifers is insurance in case of another dry year or more,” continued Marcus.

Although California once again surpassed its conservation mandate in August, SWRCB said the 26.9 percent comes as a “concerning” 4.4 percent decrease from July’s record-setting 31.4 percent water use reduction.

However, SWRCB said the 26.9 percent (63.3 billion gallons) that was saved in August more than doubled the 12 percent (28.4 billion gallons) that was saved in August 2014. It was also noted that August was hotter and drier than July, which was a month that experienced record-breaking rain totals that made outdoor water conservation more feasible.

The cumulative statewide savings rate for June, July and August was 28.7 percent as compared to the same time in 2013. Over the three-month span, California saved 611,566 acre-feet of water, which put the state at 51 percent of meeting Brown’s overall goal of conserving 1.2 million acre-feet by February 2016.

Of the 406 water supplier reports that were submitted for August, 291 suppliers (72 percent) met, or were within one percentage point of meeting their conservation standard, 55 suppliers (14 percent) were between one and five percent of meeting their conservation standard, and 54 suppliers (13 percent) were between five and 15 percent of meeting their conservation standard. It was noted that two of the six suppliers (1 percent) that were more than 15 percent of meeting their conservation standard are under alternate compliance orders.