The State Water Resources Control Board reported Thursday that California’s cities reduced their water use by nearly 27 percent in August, slightly exceeding the state mandated reduction.
The picture was mixed in the Northern San Joaquin Valley with some cities — such as Ceres, Oakdale and Patterson — exceeding their mandated reductions. Others — including Modesto and Turlock —fell short. And Riverbank saw its water use increase by 17.4 percent in August.
Gov. Jerry Brown in April ordered a 25 percent statewide reduction in urban water use effective June 1, with the reduction based on 2013 levels, in response to a fourth year of a devastating drought. The reduction is for potable — or drinkable — water. The state is requiring varying reductions among cities based on their past water use. Many valley cites have to reduce their water use by 28 percent to 36 percent.
Modesto has to reduce its water use 36 percent but saved 28.9 percent in August, according to the water board. Modesto Utilities Director Larry Parlin said the city also missed the mark in September, with a 24 percent reduction. This follows better results in June and July, when water use fell 34 percent and 32 percent.
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He said Modesto has reduced its water use by just below 30 percent from June 1 through Sept. 30. “That’s really good,” he said, “but it’s not 36 percent.”
Parlin said the city is analyzing the September numbers. He said one thing officials have noticed is the average temperature for September was 6 degrees higher than September 2103. He said the city still is weighing whether it will limit outdoor watering to one day a week in order to increase water savings. Modesto reduced outdoor watering from three days a week to two days May 1.
Modesto stopped issuing warnings last week to homeowners, businesses and other water customers who violate the city’s watering restrictions and went straight to issuing citations to gain more compliance. The citations top out at $500. Parlin said Modesto has issued about 180 citations since last week.
He also reminded water customers that there is no outdoor watering within 48 hours of measurable rain and to consider watering their lawns and landscaping once a week as the weather turns cooler.
Riverbank Public Works Superintendent Michael Riddell said his City Council last week reduced the number of days people can water their lawns and landscaping from four to two days a week in response to residents not reducing their water use.
August’s statewide reduction of nearly 27 percent was not as good as July, when urban water use fell by 31.4 percent. Water use was down 27 percent statewide in June. The State Water Resources Control Board reported that urban water use is down 28.7 percent for the three months.
“We must all keep up the good work because no one knows how much longer this historic drought will continue,” State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in a news release. “With continued heat, the danger of more wildfires, and no way of knowing when the drought will end, every drop of water that remains in our local reservoirs and aquifers is insurance in case of another dry year or more.”
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Water Savings for Selected Cities
City — August Savings — Mandated Reduction — Cumulative Reduction
Modesto — 28.9% — 36% — 31.7%
Turlock — 26.3% — 32% — 27.4%
Oakdale — 41.7% — 32% — 43%
Ceres — 31.7% — 28% — 25.9%
Patterson — 31.2% — 28% — 24.1%
Riverbank — 17.4% (increase) — 32% — 11.2%
Ripon — 26.7% — 36% — 30%
Manteca — 28.4% — 32% — 32.4%
Source: State Water Resources Control Board.
The cumulative reduction is the percentage a city has reduced its water use for June, July and August compared with the same three months in 2013.