Last April, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a statewide water-savings mandate of 25%. During the four months following this mandate, Californians quickly adapted to the new conservation requirements. But as temperatures have dropped, conservation has stalled. This February, for the first time since the mandate began, urban water users have missed the conservation goal.
With California going into its fifth straight year of serious drought and El Niño failing to replenish the state’s water reservoirs, the probability for a “March (Water) Miracle” is very low.
With this January much warmer than usual, State water consumption dropped to only 17.1 percent in January, compared to 2013. Usually during the winter months, there is a lower consumer consumption as residents use less water for outdoor irrigation. With this unusual hot and dry February, building on low conservation results in January, officials are insisting that Californians buckle down on water conservation efforts through the remaining winter and upcoming spring months.
Californians have been able to commit to the 25% reduction in the past. In fact, water-saving efforts have conserved up to 374 billion gallons of water stored in reservoirs so far, but California must continue to stay on course and embed conservation technologies into the infrastructure.
Conservation efforts include: watering early or later in the evening, gardening with native species in order to reduce or eliminate irrigation, inspecting pipes for leaks, taking maximum of 5 minute-long showers, turning the water off when not using it (brushing teeth, washing hair) and buying water-saving devices such as high efficiency toilets and urinals, such as the Falcon Hybrid.
Sustainability is a journey with no final destination, and the twenty-five percent mandated by Governor Brown should act as the start of California’s water conservation efforts, not the end.