California Meets Water-Use Goal for First Time

Previous monthly reports show Californians have had difficulty meeting the goal of reducing water use by 20 percent

The state's monthly water-use report card released Tuesday shows that Californians have met the state's 20-percent water-use reduction goal for the first time.

The report, a monthly snapshot of how 400 local water agencies are doing when it comes to water conservation efforts across drought-stricken California, shows Californian's reduced water-use by 22 percent in December compared to December 2013.

The reduction might be due in large part to a rainy month.  Officials at the State Water Resources Control Board said the extra rain minimized the need to water lawns.

"It reinforces what we thought all along that the extent of outdoor water use is a huge driver of water conservation and water use," board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said.

The State Water Resources Control Board began collecting and publicizing the water-use numbers as part of its ongoing conservation campaign as the state enters its fourth consecutive dry year. The board imposed restrictions on watering lawns and washing cars last summer after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the state in January 2014.

Brown asked residents to reduce water use by 20 percent, a goal that has been difficult to achieve. The closest Californians previously came to reaching that goal was in August, when water use dropped 11.6 percent compared with the previous year, according to the monthly surveys of water suppliers.

Dry conditions are still looming. Downtown San Francisco had no measurable rain in January for the first time in recorded history. A snow survey last week found the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which supply about a third of California's water, contained 12 percent of the normal water expected.

Springtime water runoff from melting snow in the Sierra range provides water for an estimated 25 million Californians.

The water board's mandatory water restrictions are set to expire in April. The board is also considering extending and expanding those rules later this month.

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