Sacramento Region Answers State Water Board’s Call to Conserve

Region Saves 31 percent June 2015 through February 2016

Twenty Sacramento-area water providers met their state-mandated conservation targets or were very close—within five percentage points—by the end of February, according to an analysis by the Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents water providers in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and Sutter counties.

February marks the end of the initial phase of mandatory water conservation targets set by the State Water Resources Control Board last spring amid the worst drought in California’s history. Sacramento-area water providers were tasked with meeting targets that range from 20 percent to 36 percent from June 2015 through February 2016 or potentially face fines.

During that time, the Sacramento region as a whole saved 31 percent overall–or 39 billion gallons of water–which is enough to serve 1.1 million households for three months.

“The data demonstrates the tremendous work of customers to cut back their water use and water providers who ramped up their existing services and programs to help customers conserve,” said RWA Water Efficiency Program Manager Amy Talbot.

Over the past year, many water providers doubled or tripled the amount of funding available for water conservation services and rebates compared to previous years. In some cases these were programs water providers had offered for years, while others added new programs for replacing lawn with low-water use plants, upgrading irrigation systems, pool covers, rain sensors and more. At the same time, many water providers increased limits on landscape watering days and times during the spring and summer with the majority limiting outdoor watering to two days per week.

“The past year showed us that there is no one “silver bullet” for achieving conservation targets,” Talbot said. “Water providers developed their own unique tool kits for partnering with customers to conserve.”

For example, the City of Sacramento used a combination of new and increased residential and commercial rebate programs and unique marketing and public outreach combined with enforcement of seasonal watering restrictions. The City of Roseville triggered watering day restrictions, something they’ve not had historically, and saw record numbers participating in water reduction programs like Water Wise House Calls. While Sacramento County Water Agency restricted watering days to one per week, among the strictest limits in the Sacramento region.

Looking ahead, the State Water Board extended emergency drought conservation targets through October 2016 but has directed staff to monitor and evaluate water supply conditions in March and April. State Water Board staff has said they may potentially adjust targets based upon water supply conditions.

“Let’s hope that the rain and snow keeps coming and that conditions continue to improve,” Talbot said.