For the third month in a row, San Diego County has missed the mark on water savings, conserving an average of 18 percent in December.
However, the San Diego County Water Authority says the region is still on track to meet the state’s mandated conservation through February.
Local districts must decrease their water use by between 12 and 36 percent; each district was assigned a specific goal by the State Water Control Board. As a whole, the Water Authority determined the county needs to save 20 percent of its water to meet those mandates.
While water conservation started out strong when emergency regulations went into effect last June, savings have been slowly declining since then.
In October, urban potable water use dropped by 19 percent compared to October 2013, and in November, the savings was 15 percent.
The Water Authority says nevertheless, taking December into account, the region has still saved 24 percent of its water since June – exceeding the 20 percent goal.
“Much less water is used outdoors in the wet winter months, and that makes it much harder to achieve significant water savings,” said Dana Friehauf, water resources manager for the Water Authority, in a statement. “An 18 percent decline for a month when water demands are already much lower is a major achievement. The easiest way to save these days is to make sure irrigation systems are turned off to take advantage of winter storms in San Diego County.”
State law prohibits residents from watering their lawns within 48 hours of rainfall.
In December, the state board requested the mandated conservation measures be extended farther into 2016.
In response, the Water Authority filed formal comments seeking to ease the strict goals for local districts. Officials maintain that San Diego has invested in water reliability in the past two decades, so the region was more prepared for a drought than other parts of California.
They believe San Diego County should not be required to save even more water to make up for other counties.
The Water Authority also wants the state board to reexamine its emergency water use regulations in April, when they will know if El Nino storms eased drought conditions.