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article imageUtility districts cut water use by 27 percent in California

By Nathan Salant     Jul 31, 2015 in Environment
Sacramento - Drought-slammed California could avoid mandatory water rationing next summer if the state's hundreds of utility districts can keep water under control until the next heavy rains arrive.
Water use in the country's most-populous state fell 27 percent in June after officials called for stepped-up conservation measures from California's 411 local utility districts in the face of four years of drought.
Regulators released data Thursday showing that 265 of the districts had met or nearly met a 25 percent reduction target set by the governor in case drought conditions persist, according to the [url=http:// t=_blank]Associated Press.
Weather forecasters predict this fall to get unusually heavy rains on the West Coast due to ocean conditions.
But that was then and this is now.
June 2015 was the hottest month in recorded human history, yet conservation efforts blunted anticipated increases in water use, officials with California's State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento reported.
"The June numbers tell a story of conscious conservation, and that's what we need and are applauding today," Felicia Marcus, the board's chairwoman, told the AP.
"We need to save as much as possible -- that is water essentially in the bank for a future dry year or more," she said.
The water board's report reflected previously announced reductions claimed by Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco -- California's largest cities -- and other districts serving 27 million of the state's nearly 40 million people.
Communities have been given nine months to meet state-mandated reductions of as much as 36 percent from 2013 water use under orders issued by Gov. Jerry Brown.
But many communities have objected to the requirements and some have filed lawsuits to block them, such as San Diego, which has gone to court but managed to meet its conservation goals anyway.
Robyn Bullard of San Diego's public utilities department said her city communicated with residents about saving water through email and television commercials.
The statewide water board said it would begin contacting agencies that failed to come close to conservation targets to find out what they're doing or not doing in terms of conservation.
Water districts serving wealthy areas in Coachella Valley and Temecula were ordered to increase enforcement of rules against water wasting or start putting limits on when residents can water lawns.
Agencies that miss water conservation targets can be subject to fines, the AP said.
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