Urban potable water use in the San Diego region decreased by 19 percent in October compared to October 2013 despite record-setting heat, according to preliminary data released today by the San Diego County Water Authority. It was the fifth consecutive month of major regional water-use reductions since state mandates started in June.
From June through October, regional water consumption dropped by 26 percent compared to the state’s baseline period in 2013, beating the regional aggregate target of 20 percent.
High temperatures made water conservation more challenging in October. Temperatures at Lindbergh Field were about 8 degrees above average for the month; in October 2013, temperatures at Lindbergh Field were slightly below normal. Current projections are for temperatures to remain above average statewide during the fall and winter, likely making it harder to conserve water and making it harder to accumulate snowpack.
“The region made another impressive effort to conserve water during an extremely hot month,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Since state emergency water-use regulations took effect in June, we have beaten the state’s conservation goals as a region, and we will continue to work closely with our member agencies to build on our successes in the months ahead.”
The State Water Resources Control Board has set mandatory conservation targets for Water Authority member agencies between 12 and 36 percent below 2013 levels. Those targets are scheduled to remain in place through February. The governor has ordered statewide water-use mandates extend through October 2016 if drought conditions persist through January. He also has directed the State Water Board to consider modifications to its emergency regulations.
Climatologists say there is a strong likelihood – 95 percent – that El Niño conditions will continue through the winter. El Niños often, but not always, deliver above-average rainfall to Southern California. Even if California gets substantial precipitation, it likely will take more than one wet winter for California to emerge from the current drought, which is among the most severe in recorded history.
As a wholesale water agency, the Water Authority coordinates drought response actions for the region. The regional strategy centers on decreasing ornamental landscape irrigation first to minimize the economic disruption caused by cuts to water used by industrial, commercial and farming operations. Local water-use rules generally limit landscape watering to two days a week, while state rules prohibit landscape irrigation during, and for 48 hours after measurable rain.
For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to www.whenindrought.org.