Regular as rain, the State Water Resources Control Board today released another month’s worth of urban water conservation statistics.
The gist: Californians used less water in October 2014 than they did in October 2013, but conservation efforts appear to be tapering off.
Residents were at their best with 11.6 percent water savings in August. That number declined a bit to 10.3 percent savings in September, then plummeted to 6.7 percent savings in October. The statewide decline that month was driven mostly by less conservation in Southern California, officials said.
The weather may be a factor. In many areas it was warmer in October 2014 than in October 2013, meaning people were still using their sprinklers liberally. Outdoor irrigation can amount to half of a typical household’s water use.
On a related note, it rained more in Southern California last October than it did this year, which could also help explain why folks there didn’t save as much water as everyone else.
Then there’s the theory of “conservation fatigue,” as explained by Mark Emmerson with the Office of Research, Planning and Performance.
“Over time the message is getting blurred a little bit and people are kind of just falling back into old ways, not being as diligent maybe as they were initially during the summer,” he said. At least, that’s one theory.
Close to home here in San Joaquin County, most communities continued to save water, albeit not at the same pace they might have earlier this summer.
The lone exception was Lodi, where water use actually increased yet again.
Cal Water Stockton customers take the prize for the overall lowest water use, and the city of Tracy wins once again for the largest percentage decline.
The per capita numbers (in gallons per person per day, comparing October 2013 with October 2014):
• Lodi: 164 gallons last year; 176.4 gallons this year; 6.9 percent increase.
• Stockton Municipal Utilities Department: 130.6 gallons last year; 123.1 gallons this year; 5.7 percent decrease.
• California Water Service Co. (Stockton): 80.2 gallons last year; 71.8 gallons this year; 10.3 percent decrease.
• City of Manteca: 146.5 gallons last year; 126.2 gallons this year; 13.8 percent decrease.
• City of Tracy: 137.6 gallons last year; 110.8 gallons this year; 19.5 percent decrease.
• City of Lathrop: 115.9 gallons last year; 102.3 gallons this year; 11.7 percent decrease.
• Calaveras County Water District: 153 gallons last year; 134.6 gallons this year; 12 percent decrease.