Since California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on April 1 requiring a mandatory 25 percent reduction in statewide water use, the state has made significant progress with its conservation efforts.
The State Water Resources Control Board announced on July 30 that water use for the month of June decreased by 27.3 percent, surpassing the governor's mandate. While a bit lower than May's conservation number of 28.9 percent, June's decrease in water use came during the hottest June on record for the state.
Brown ordered the state's first-ever mandatory water-use restrictions for cities and towns after the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) reported that the state's snowpack was at historically low levels.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Board, said the data released by the organization shows Californians understand the severity of the drought situation.
"We didn't know if the positive showing in May was due in part to cooler temperatures," Marcus said in a statement. "This report shows that residents knew they had to keep conserving even during the summer heat and they kept the sprinklers off more than they would in a normal year. That's the right attitude as we head into August and September heat--in the drought of the century with no certain end date."
The June water savings put the state on track to meet the goal of 1.2 million acre-feet of water saved by February 2016. The 59.4 billion gallons saved during the month is six times more compared to June 2014 (9.6 billion gallons), another indication of how agencies and residents are following the mandatory requirements.
Prior to the issuance of the executive order, Californians in cities and towns reduced their water consumption by only 2.8 percent in February and 3.6 percent in March.
While there are indications that this winter will bring a strong El Niño that could deliver much-needed relief, it will likely take more than one strong El Niño winter to bust the drought as the rain deficits are too large, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno previously stated.
Currently, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 46 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought conditions, with 71 percent between extreme and exceptional.
Marcus told the Los Angeles Times that she was worried that residents may be less inclined to conserve water ahead of the potentially strong El Niño.
"It's not that I hate El Niño, I hate El Niño hype," Marcus said. "If it happens, we'll celebrate, but we can't count on it."
The State Water Board said that of the 405 state water suppliers reporting, 265 met or were within 1 percent of their conservation standard. Sixteen suppliers were more than 15 percent away from their standard and will need to meet with the board to provide information about their existing conservation programs.
The state also announced the launch of a new website that allows California residents to report water waste and suspected leaks. The website, SaveWater.Ca.Gov, allows users to report and send pictures anonymously to water suppliers through mobile devices and their computers.
Incidents of reported water waste increased in June with 43,942 complaints statewide from 371 suppliers, compared to 28,793 complaints by 353 suppliers in May. As a result, 9,582 penalties were issued compared to 1,928 in May.
"Everyone needs to save water, and this is one effective way alert residents can help everyone - and every community - save water during this historic drought," Marcus said. "Every drop saved - and every suspected leak or water waste reported and corrected - will help stretch the state's limited water supply, because we don't know if next year will be a fifth year of drought."