Despite drought, water conservation not a priority

Millerton Lake in Fresno County formed by the Friant Dam. Photo: K.J. Kolb

Californians in cities and towns across the state cut their water usage only slightly – 2.8 percent — during February compared with the same month in 2013, an indication that despite the severity of the drought, conservation is not taking hold.

Felicia Marcus, the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said “the February results are very disturbing.”

“I know many communities in the state stepped up since last summer and dramatically conserved water. But not enough communities in the state have saved enough water,” she said in a written statement.

The figures reported by the board, which convened Tuesday, reflect a survey of 400 urban water agencies. In one area, a portion of southern California, water usage increased by 2.3 percent.

The February conservation reflects a sharp departure from January 2015, when the water agencies reported an 8 percent reduction compared with January 2013. The base year used for comparison, 2013, represents the last year before the 2014 emergency water conservation regulations went into effect.

Last week, Gov. Brown issued an executive order requiring a 25 percent cut urban water use statewide.

Marcus’ board on May 5 will consider adopting a regulation putting the 25 percent cut into effect. If approved, the cut will take effect in June.

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