California residents have decreased water usage by 5 percent this year compared to the past three years — far less than Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for a 20 percent decrease in January — according to a statewide survey released Tuesday.
The results released by the State Water Resources Control Board showed that the Bay Area reported a 2 percent reduction in water usage from January to May when compared with the same time period over the past three years. While the 2 percent decrease is less than many other major areas across California, the figure is significant because of the Bay Area’s already low water usage levels, said George Kostyrko, spokesperson for the state board.
Water usage was measured from January to May because the five-month period is when the largest amount of precipitation is expected during any given year, according to Kostyrko.
“In the state of California, the SF Bay Area region has really been a true leader in reducing the per capita use of water per person,” Kostyrko said. “The Bay Area has, on average, 50 to 55 gallons a day per person — pretty much at the baseline where we would expect the state to present water to every man, woman and child.”
In January, Brown declared that California was in a state of drought emergency going into its third consecutive year of severely dry conditions and asked Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
Kostyrko added that a significant part of the board’s plan to reduce water usage is through examining residential irrigation in suburban areas such as Orinda and cities in the South Bay, where excess water is being used to care for lawns, hose down walkways and wash cars.
While one East Bay city, Pleasanton, has mandated a 25 percent decrease in water usage at the risk of heavy fines, the East Bay Municipal Utility District has not placed mandatory restrictions on all cities in the East Bay, including Berkeley, according to campus director of sustainability Lisa McNeilly.
Cheryl Farr, special assistant to the general manager at EBMUD, said the district has no plans for a mandatory enforcement of water rationing for the Bay Area.
“Our customers are doing a great job, and we at the EBMUD will continue to encourage that,” Farr said.
As for UC Berkeley’s conservation efforts, McNeilly said the campus has been reducing the water used for irrigation and replacing toilets that use too much water per flush.
One of UC Berkeley’s sustainability goals is to reduce potable water use to 10 percent below 2008 levels by 2020. According to the 2013 campus sustainability report, UC Berkeley uses over 615 million gallons a year of potable water as of last year.
Contact Natalie Meier and Octavia Sun at [email protected].