While California on the whole continues to surpass its conservation
target, Camrosa's November reduction was in the single digits.
After six months of drought reporting, California has reduced urban potable water use 27.1 percent from 2013.
Sixty-nine percent of the state’s 409 urban water suppliers exceeded, met, or were within one percent of their
conservation target, and another 15 percent were within five percent.
Ventura County Star reported last week that Ventura County’s 16 water agencies were all in one of those two groups.
All, that is, except Camrosa.
October was our worst month to that point, with a monthly reduction of only 20 percent from 2013, leading to a 24.8
percent cumulative reduction. But November was even worse; last month, Camrosa residents managed to reduce only 9.2 percent
from the same month in 2013, dragging our cumulative reduction over the drought period to 23 percent.
No more than 4.62 inches of rain have fallen in Camarillo thus far in 2015, less than a third of the 15.22-inch average.
Last year, we had 9.13 inches. The year before that, 2.97, and in 2012, only 8.39. We haven’t had an above-average rain year since 2010.
The same is true, of course, across Southern California, and the region has been living off water stored in surface reservoirs,
several of which were built for that very reason after the serious drought of the early 1990s. But that supply is limited and dwindling
fast: Castaic Lake approaches 30 percent of capacity, the San Luis Reservoir is down to 19 percent, and Diamond Valley Lake recently
fell below its previous record low.
Southern California's allocation from the State Water Project, which the region relies on to keep surface reservoirs full,
was only five percent of normal this year. Preliminary numbers for next year put the allocation at ten percent, but that number will go
up or down depending on the amount of snowpack come next spring. While meteorologists are calling for a wet winter, no one’s sure it’ll
be cold enough to keep that water locked up as snow far enough into the spring to provide a reasonable supply. If Sierra snowfall all melts
and runs off before the end of March, it would likely be too much for the State Water Project infrastructure to manage, and would simply flow out to sea.
Where Has All the Conservation Gone?
There are a number of reasons that conservation has fallen off the last couple months. In general, the majority of residential water use is
outdoors, for turf and landscape irrigation, and as the days get shorter and begin to cool, landscaping demands less water. As the volume of water
being used outdoors diminishes, it becomes harder and harder to make up significant overall reductions. On top of that, the average high in November
2015 was two degrees warmer than in 2013, and while we received half an inch of rain in November 2013, in two events about a week apart, this year
we had one day of only trace precipitation.
But the State Water Board drought regulations make no allowance for differences in weather. In fact, the regulations exist precisely because the
weather’s been hard on our water supplies. It’s a drought, and we need to continue to make sacrifices and hard choices to keep as much water as possible
available for future use now, while we still have it to save.
What Comes Next
Gov. Brown issued a new Executive Order a few weeks ago indicating
that the drought regulations would be extended “if drought conditions persist through January 2016.” Barring rain events of Biblical proportion
between now and the of the year, it’s fairly safe to assume we’ll be operating under drought regulations past the original end date of February 13, 2016.
In anticipation of that extension, the Water Board held a workshop on Monday, December 7, to receive feedback on the regulations from urban water
suppliers. Camrosa joined representatives from all over the state in providing comments, many of which focused on the need to give credit in the
conservation-target calculation to agencies that have expended significant resources developing reliable alternatives to imported water. Many
of our facilities–the Water Reclamation Facility, the Conejo Creek Diversion project, potable and nonpotable groundwater wells, the Round
Mountain Water Treatment Plant–significantly reduce our demand for imported water, and we’re working directly with the Water Board on ways
to acknowledge these contributions in our conservation-target calculations should drought regulations be extended and adjusted.
In the meantime, imported water, which accounts for fully half of Camrosa’s water-supply portfolio, grows scarcer by the day; our state-mandated
32-percent reduction remains in effect; and Camrosa continues to fall far short of its goals. We will continue to work with our customers
to maintain and, after our November results, ramp up our conservation efforts. We encourage everyone to do the same.
Stage Three Water Supply Shortage water-use prohibitions remain in effect:
- – Outdoor landscape irrigation is limited to TWO NIGHTS A WEEK,
between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m.
- – Filling or refilling pools is prohibited except for health and safety reasons
- – No new potable water service will be provided
- – Water leaks are to be corrected in 24 hours
- – Wash-down of hard pavement is prohibited
- – Drinking water to be served only upon request at eating or drinking facilities
- – For details, see the Emergency
Stages excerpted from
Stage Three also states that “the District may implement other water use requirements as determined
by the Board to meet water supply shortage or water emergency conditions.”
Visit our conservation page for tips and resources to continue conserving.