City of Turlock Water Conservation
Following the second month of eased water conservation standards, data released by the State Water Resources Control Board Wednesday revealed that some agencies throughout California have managed to maintain their water conservation ways, while others have reverted back to superfluous water usage.
“Having invested time and effort into conservation, many Californians and their communities continue to hit it out of the park,” said SWRCB Chair Felicia Marcus. “Others are still very much in the game, while a few communities seem to be leaving the ballpark entirely.
“We’ll keep looking closely at the monthly results to determine if we need to step back in with demand-based or other higher conservation standards. But for now Californians have continued to conserve, albeit at a lesser level, having stepped up mightily last year in the face of extreme conditions,” continued Marcus.
The City of Turlock was one of the many agencies throughout the state to meet its new minimum conservation standard of 20 percent in July with a total water savings of 24.6 percent.
“I’d like to thank our residents and businesses for continuing to conserve water and for recognizing that we need to persist in protecting our precious groundwater supplies,” said Director of Municipal Services Michael Cooke. “We are in the fifth year of a drought, and there are no signs that it’s going to end any time soon.”
Prior to the implementation of Turlock’s new 20 percent conservation standard in June, residents had been striving to reach a 32 percent reduction under Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015 conservation mandate.
This number was reduced to 29 percent earlier this year due to improved water conditions and again to 20 percent in June when SWRCB gave urban water agencies the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of reliability. This “test” prompted water suppliers to document they had sufficient supplies to withstand three years of continuous drought or take additional measures that include state-imposed mandatory conservation targets.
“Our minimum conservation standard under the State regulations is 16 percent,” said Cooke. “However, given the fact that the aquifer is showing no signs of recovery and also because we have lost a number of wells — thereby reducing our water production capacity — we chose a 20 percent conservation standard.”
Cooke said Turlock has a number of programs in place to assist residents with water conservation, including an online tool that allows them to monitor water usage, a Home Water Survey Kit, high efficiency appliance rebates and low flow devices for qualifying customers. Residents are also encouraged to report inappropriate or excessive water use either via telephone of the City’s website.
“Right now we rely 100 percent on groundwater which is a diminishing resource. Aquifer levels continue to decline and the groundwater is also getting worse,” said Cooke. “We are working on well rehabilitation projects to try and bring some wells back into service and we will be drilling pilot holes to find locations for two to three new wells to replace the ones we have lost.
“However, all of these projects take time and it will be two years before our water production capacity is back to where it needs to be, and all this assumes there will be an adequate supply of water that meets all water quality standards,” continued Cooke.
Unlike Turlock, some agencies throughout the state that achieved water savings upwards of 20 percent in 2015, including Anaheim, Malibu, Vallejo and Yucaipa Valley Water District, dropped to less than 10 percent water savings in 2016.
Despite the decreased water conservation efforts exhibited by some agencies, California only saw a 1 percent dip from June conservation numbers with 20 percent, or 47.3 billion gallons, of water saved in July. This amount is a decrease from water conservation efforts in July 2015, which totaled 31.3 percent, or 74.9 billion gallons, of water saved.
“While Californians have maintained their conservation awareness and practices without top-down mandates, we are watching trends in parts of California that suggest some areas may be easing up more than the improved conditions may warrant, while other areas are continuing to conserve for the long term,” said Marcus. “The statewide July conservation results show that Californians continue to care about their communities and preserving precious water resources for the longer term.”
Over the course of 14 months spanning from June 2015 to July 2016, SWRCB reported that California was able to reduce water usage by 23.8 percent — a total that equates to about 1.9 million acre-feet, or enough to supply 9.5 million people for a year.
“Last year, facing the fourth year of an historic drought and the worst snowpack in 500 years, we were at red alert,” said Marcus. “This year, with some drought relief from one season of near normal rain and snow, we’re still at yellow alert; we are definitely not at all-clear.”