Energy & Environment

Water usage in Southern California increased, despite Newsom’s call to cut back: data

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Water usage in parts of Southern California increased in July but saw a minor reduction statewide as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) requested that residents cut back amid a historic drought, according to new state data released Tuesday. 

The State Water Resources Control Board data showed that water usage in California decreased by only 1.8 percent in July, which the Los Angeles Times noted was equal to the amount that was reduced at the same point last year. 

Water use increased by 0.7 percent in Los Angeles and by 1.3 percent in San Diego, according to the state data. 

The numbers indicate that California residents were unsuccessful in meeting Newsom’s goal announced in early July to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 15 percent compared to 2020 levels.  

The board’s chairman, Joaquin Esquivel, told The Sacramento Bee Tuesday, “On conservation, we’re going to be needing to do more.” 

However, the chair noted that compared to 2014 levels, during another drought, Californians are now using 15 percent per capita less water. 

Additionally, Esquivel noted that in the Russian River watershed region, where Newsom declared a drought emergency in April, people were able to reduce their water consumption in July by 17 percent compared to 2020 levels. 

Karla Nemeth, director of California’s Department of Water Resources, said the state is outlining “a worst-case scenario in terms of water availability,” according to the Bee. 

The Times reported that certain counties were able to meet Newsom’s conservation target, including Mendocino and Sonoma, which she said were in the “bullseye for the drought early on.”

However, the state water official noted, “We’re going to need all Californians to conserve, and conserve a lot more.” 

The Hill has reached out to the state control board for additional information on the data. 

Earlier this month, a study by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute and commissioned by the nonprofit think tank Next 10 found that the ongoing California drought had accelerated the need for energy-intensive water projects, thereby driving up greenhouse gas emissions

While Newsom has declined to impose mandatory water restrictions as his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown (D), did in the state’s previous drought, the current governor has said that requirements could eventually come if the drought continues.

Tags California Drought Droughts in the United States Gavin Newsom LOS ANGELES TIMES the sacramento bee Water Water Resources
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