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Sacramento-Area Water Conservation 31 Percent In May

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Drought conditions persist in 2016, but California has ended mandatory statewide conservation. Boreal Mountain Resort was one of several ski resorts that opened earlier than normal in November 2015 after a near-normal winter in northern California.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Regional Water Authority says people in the five-county region reduced water use 31 percent in May, compared to 2013. The RWA says the May reduction is the same as April's rate.

The RWA represents water providers in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and Sutter counties. 

"The savings demonstrate several important factors and many residents in May were still in drought emergency mode," says RWA Water Efficiency Program Manager Amy Talbot. "But, more importantly, I hope it shows that people are continuing the water-wise behaviors they adopted during the drought for the longer-term." 

The RWA says a recent public opinion poll found that nearly 95 percent of residents said they took action to reduce water use at home during the drought, and that nearly 79 percent of residents said they plan to permanently reduce their water use even after the drought is over.

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Mandatory statewide conservation rules ended in May, and water agencies are asking customers for voluntary conservation.  

Under regulations that took effect June 1, local water suppliers have to prove they have sufficient supplies to meet customer demand should the state experience three years of continuous drought. 

The California State Water Resources Control Board could tweak those rules in the future, depending on water supply sources and the effectiveness of local conservation efforts.

061616 DROMON-SEASONAL

California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought.

The three-month seasonal outlook from federal forecasters shows drought persisting through August. And long-term drought remains in much of central California.

As of June 20, the statewide Sierra snowpack was 8 percent of normal. The north-south split in precipitation in winter 2015-16 brought more rain and snow to northern California.

The difference is still reflected in current snowpack conditions, with the northern Sierra at 24 percent of normal, while snow has melted away at the 67 reporting stations in the central and southern Sierra. 

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"Californians continue to demonstrate that they are serious about water conservation, which is fabulous," said California State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, in early June, as the board released a report showing Californians conserved 26.1 percent in April 2016, compared to April 2013. "Conservation must become a California way of life."

Long-term drought persists in California, western Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

062116 North American Drought