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Turlock exceeds water conservation goal in November
California struggles to meet monthly standard for second consecutive month
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After three straight months of not meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s 32 percent water conservation mandate, Turlock water customers delivered in November with a 33 percent water savings.

“Thanks to our customers’ commitment to water conservation, the City of Turlock exceeded the water conservation target of 32 percent and achieved a 33.1 percent reduction in water usage for the month of November,” said City of Turlock Regulatory Affairs Manager Garner Reynolds. “With winter rains upon us, this is a great time to turn off your sprinklers and conserve our precious resource.”

Much of the 33 percent reduction is likely attributed to people turning off their sprinkler systems. The City of Turlock encourages everyone to shut down their sprinkler system during the winter months when landscape watering is not necessary. The winter and wet months provide the perfect opportunity for groundwater levels to recover. By turning off sprinkler systems, it maximizes the recovery of groundwater. For those with indoor plants, keep a bucket in the shower and/or collect rainwater to keep those plants alive and healthy.

As part of 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.

The City of Turlock was not the only regional supplier to meet its mandate in November. The City of Oakdale also surpassed its water conservation standard of 32 percent by nearly 14 percent. However, the City of Modesto missed its water reduction goal of 36 percent by 3.8 percent, and the City of Ceres missed its water reduction goal of 28 percent by 4.2 percent. 

While November proved to be a successful month for Turlock, Californians were unable to meet their water conservation mandate of 25 percent for the second consecutive month with only 20.3 percent (94,236 acre-feet or 30.7 billion gallons) saved in November. This number is down another 2 percent from October.

In contrast, average statewide water use declined from 87 gallons per person per day in October to 75 in November—the lowest observed since the Water Board’s emergency regulation went into effect.

Despite a decline in the statewide water-saving rate for the last two months, the State’s cumulative savings in the sixth months since emergency conservation regulations in June still remain above Brown’s 25 percent mandate by 1.3 percent compared with the same months in 2013.

This equates to over 1 million acre-feet, putting the state more than 80 percent of the way to meeting the 1.2 million acre-feet savings goal to be achieved by February.

“We expected the percentage drop in the cooler fall and winter months when we use less water in general so we are still on track,” said SWRCB Chair Felicia Marcus. “The fact that per person water use dropped to 75 gallons per person per day on average is proof that Californians are clearly thinking twice before turning on the tap.”

Despite recent rain and snow, most of California is still experiencing severe drought. Residential water users are urged to keep up their efforts to conserve through the winter months. That includes complying with urban water supplier directives to switch to watering schedules of once a week as well as a prohibition against watering during a rain event and 48 hours directly following a rain event.

“As welcome as recent rain and snow are, we’ve been in such a deep drought that we won’t know until spring whether we can let up on conservation,” said Marcus.

In November, Brown issued an additional Executive Order directing the SWRCB to extend and revise the emergency water conservation regulations based on conditions through January. Out for public review is a staff-proposed framework for the next iteration of the drought emergency water conservation regulation, which is intended to replace the current regulations, set to expire in the middle of next month.

Following public review of the framework, staff will release a draft update emergency regulation for public comment in mid-January. SWRCB consideration of an extended emergency regulation is anticipated Feb. 2.