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Californians Stopped Saving So Much Water This Summer

… even though the state is still in drought. It’s just not in a record-busting drought like it was at this time last year.

By Francie Diep


Aerial view overlooking landscaping in Rancho Santa Fe, California. (Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Mandatory water cuts ended in most California cities this summer, and the results have been predictable. In August, Golden State city-dwellers used just 18 percent less water than they did in the same month in 2013, the Los Angeles Times reports. Compare that to August 2015, when, in the midst of a mandated 25 percent reduction, California cities used 27 percent less water than they did in August 2013. This August’s numbers are part of a trend that’s continued all summer: Californians have saved less water every month since mandatory cuts were lifted, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Governor Jerry Brown imposed the cuts in April 2015, marking the first time California had ever implemented such rules statewide. California suffered from historically dry conditions that year, with the Sierra Nevada snowpack — a crucial source of water for the state — at just 5 percent of its usual volume, a record low.


(Maps: California Data Exchange Center)

The drought eased a bit in 2016. The snowpack was only a little lower than average, and many reservoirs in the state are fuller now than they were a year ago (although they’re still emptier than their historical average). Much of California remains in severe, extreme, or exceptional drought. Experts warn that the drought conditions of the last four years will continue to threaten California’s water supply for a while yet.