Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Has Water Conservation Become a Way of Life in California?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Has Water Conservation Become a Way of Life in California?

Article excerpt

Some habits are hard to break - and that might be a good thing for parched California.

No longer under strict, drought-induced water conservation regulations, California residents still reduced water consumption by 21.5 percent in June from the baseline of June 2013. June was the first month since the restrictions were relaxed.

"For many conservation is now a way of life, and in our book that's a success," Jasmine Oaxaca, an enforcement specialist with the state water board, told the San Jose Mercury News.

Last June, 410 urban areas were given water conservation targets ranging from 8 to 36 percent based on its per capita water use in 2013, with fines for missing the targets.

Although California residents have not reverted to pre- conservation ways since the easing of this system for the most part, the report released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board shows water conservation has fallen. June 2015 saw a 27.5 percent drop in water use from the baseline year 2013.

Over the past 13 months, the state collectively cut water use by 24 percent, just shy of the 25 percent target.

Despite being in the fifth year of a historic drought, a wetter winter allowed state officials to ease the restrictions put in place last year. The Mercury News reports that the winter of 2015-2016 was the wettest in Northern California since the drought began and some large reservoirs are now over 90 percent full. Southern California, however, received far less rain.

Some environmentalists say the restrictions should not have been relaxed so readily because of this uneven rainfall. Much of the state is still in severe drought.

"We are trying to recognize that conditions have changed this year and while we are in a statewide drought, conditions have eased for some parts of the state," Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, said in May when the regulations were relaxed. …

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