Statewide water conservation picks up January 08 2015

After a profligate October, consumers across California rededicated themselves to water conservation in November, saving 3 percent more water statewide.

The release of statistics Tuesday by the State Water Board confirmed that overall, Bakersfield residential users actually saved more water. But some still use more than twice the daily state average.

Statewide savings back on track:

Californians used 9.8 percent less water in November compared to the same month in 2013, reversing an increase that saw conservation efforts dip from a 10.2 percent reduction in September to 6.8 percent in October, year to year.

The efforts saved nearly 14.9 billion gallons of water in November compared to nearly 13 billion gallons in October.

Since June, Californians have saved more than 105 billion gallons -- enough to supply nearly 1.4 million residents for a year.

"That's a very positive result. Somehow, our water conservation efforts worked," Rafael Maestu, an economist for the California State Water Resources Control Board, told board members during a video broadcast of their regular Sacramento meeting.

"I'm thrilled the numbers are up, that's always a good thing whether folks are trying harder or it's cooler. There's really no way to know except anecdotally," said water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.

* Bakersfield savings up, usage high:

Residential water use in Bakersfield declined more than 20 percent in November compared to the same month last year.

But homes served by the city's water system -- about one-third of the city -- still used 179 gallons per capita per day.

That put them in the top 6 percent statewide -- among nearly 1.3 million residents who use 150 to 200 gallons per capita per day.

The statewide average for November was about half that: nearly 89.

Residents covered by California Water Service Company, which handles about two-thirds of Bakersfield, used 97 gallons per capita per day, which earned them a place with the 12.5 million Californians who use 75 to 100 gallons per capita per day.

In a state sampling of daily use rates topped by Riverside at 102 gallons per capita, Cal Water's Bakersfield area was second.

Fresno users were fourth, at 78 gallons per day.

Santa Cruz performed best among the 13 cities, at 41 gallons per day.

Per capita usage in the state's Tulare Lake region, which includes most of Kern, Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties, averaged nearly 108 gallons per day in November.

That represented a reduction of more than 16 percent year to year.

"I give (Bakersfield) an 'A' for effort. That's still a lot," Marcus said in a phone interview afterward. "By far the greatest water waste is in people watering turf. What we're really trying to see is people taking that action and implementing behavior change."

City Water Resources Director Jason Meadors said Bakersfield's warm weather and large lot sizes are partially to blame, and noted that more than half of residential water use goes to landscaping.

"I think that's our goal, to target the outdoor use, and I think as people go forward they're getting smarter about that," Meadors said.

"When springtime gets here and summer, we've really got to crank it up at that point. We have to watch what we're doing," said Vice Mayor Harold Hanson, chairman of the city water board, which will consider odd-even watering days on Jan. 14.