Friday, November 19, 2021

California backslides on water conservation amid drought

 A severe drought prompted California Gov. Gavin Newsom last summer to ask the state's nearly 40 million residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% this year. New data released Tuesday shows few people are doing that.

Californians reduced their water use by a measly 3.9% in September, down from 5.1% in August. Overall, California has reduced its water consumption by just 3.6% since July, when Newsom made the request.

“It's not the news we want to see, for sure,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.As California heads into what traditionally is its wettest time of the year, 80% of the state is classified as in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories.

...State officials had hoped Californians' conservation would continue to improve each month as more people learn about the drought and water agencies promote their conservation efforts. Instead, data showed none of the state's “hydrologic" regions met the 15% threshold and two in the Central Valley region that account for 10% of the state's population actually used more water in September than a year ago.

California's most recent “water year,” which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, was the second-driest on record in terms of statewide precipitation. California had its warmest ever statewide average monthly temperatures in October 2020 and June and July 2021, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's national Centers for Environmental Information.

That combination of extremely warm, dry weather has made it much harder for California to collect and store the water it gets from rain and snow each winter, as most of it either evaporates or is absorbed into the dry soil...MORE

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