Statewide conservation efforts for March doubled the 12 percent saved in February, coming in at a total of 24.3 percent conserved compared to March 2013, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced yesterday. A staff proposal is expected to offer revisions to the February emergency water conservation regulations, according the the SWRCB release.
Cumulative savings came in at 23.9 percent for June 2015 to March 2016 compared to the same timespan in 2013, the release said.
Officials attributed the spike in savings for March over February to renewed emergency water conservation regulations adopted by the SWRCB on February 2, and ongoing awareness among residents statewide.
“While some parts of the state saw rain and snow, other parts, specifically the Central Valley and Southern California, didn’t; and yet, all Californians stepped up again to conserve water, because they know they can and that it is good for California,” said SWRCB Chair Felicia Marcus. Marcus called 24 percent savings a “stunning” number, but cautioned against complacency. “We may not need the same levels of conservation as last year, but we still need to keep all we can in our reservoirs and groundwater basins in case this winter is just a punctuation mark in a longer drought.”
Existing restrictions were extended through October at the SWRCB’s February 2 meeting.
However, revisions to the mandates are expected to be discussed at a May 18 SWRCB meeting, about a month after a review of written and oral comments from a public workshop, according to the release. Residents offered their ideas for adjustments to the current emergency regulations at an April 20 meeting.
“It’s not time yet for a drought’s over party,” said Marus. “That said, March brought us much needed rain and snow—still less than average but huge compared to the worst in 500 years, which is where we were last year [...] Now we are figuring out how to appropriately adjust to a better but not ideal situation.”
Since June 2015, the SWRCB has issued 11 conservation orders, 120 notices of violation, 99 warnings and more in efforts to keep local water boards in compliance with state regulations.
Long Beach counted 15.8 percent cumulative savings in March, just 0.2 percent shy of its 16 percent monthly conservation goal (over 2013 numbers). It was the fourth consecutive month the city had missed its mark since a November 2015 conservation number of 16.3 percent. Since then, its missed the 16 percent mandate handed down by the SWRCB by registering marks of 11.6, 9.8, 13.1 and 7.7 percent respectively through February. As of March, Long Beach’s cumulative water conservation number is approximately 15 percent for June 2015 through March 2015.
“We need to remember that the drought is not over,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a release last month. “We have to keep up the saving until October and beyond, to make conservation a permanent way of life.”