Californians Struggle To Cut Water Use

The state is slowly starting to curb water consumption, but progress has been ‘disappointingly slow’ as water supplies across the West diminish to historic lows.

2 minute read

July 12, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Shasta Lake

Lake Shasta, California's largest reservoir, is at half of its average levels for this time of year. | Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock

Californians are saving more water, but it’s still not enough to meet Governor Newsom’s goal of reducing water use by 15 percent, reports Hayley Smith in the Los Angeles Times. “After months of middling efforts — including a 17.6% increase in urban water use in April — residents in May saved 3.1% more water than in the same month in 2020, the baseline year against which current data are measured, according to new figures from the State Water Resources Control Board.”

Since April, “The latest figures indicate the message is seeping in, albeit only slightly, with the South Coast hydrologic region that is home to Los Angeles eking out a 2.2% savings in May.” According to Peter Gleick, co-founder and senior fellow of the Pacific Institute, “It’s progress in the right direction, but it’s still disappointingly slow.” The article indicates that Californians only cut water use by 2 percent since last July.

“On June 10, the water board required all urban water suppliers to implement Level 2 of their emergency drought restrictions. It also took the step of banning the irrigation of “nonfunctional grass,” or grass that is purely decorative, at businesses and in common areas of subdivisions and property controlled by homeowner associations.” The decision comes as the state’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, sits at 39 percent of capacity, “about half its average for this time of year.”

Smith writes that “The [2022-2023 state budget]  allocates $2.8 billion for drought response and water resilience, officials said, including $175 million for water-saving strategies such as turf replacement.” According to a separate article in WaterWorld, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) just awarded $2 million to four water conservation projects aimed at improving drought resilience.

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