Local water districts are fighting for every drop

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drought3sScores of water agencies in California are lobbying for last-minute changes to the conservation goals set down by state officials. They’re trying to reduce the severity of the cuts they’re facing before the final numbers are announced later this week.

Local water districts in California are being asked to reduce their water use by anywhere from 8 to 36 percent, depending on their average use and record of conservation. It’s all part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for Californians to cut water consumption by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels.drought4

The State Water Resources Control Board will issue its final conservation targets for water agencies up and down the state later this week. Agencies that don’t meet those targets will be subject to hefty fines. But before those numbers are released, water agencies are desperately trying to lessen the impacts on their communities.

More than a third of the state’s 411 urban water districts have contacted state officials to say they made mistakes in their initial reporting of how much water residents use on a daily basis. Some agencies said they counted leaks and other inefficiencies as part of individual water use – to their detriment – while other agencies did not. If those districts can convince the Water Board that the new figures are more accurate, the amount of water they’re asked to save would be reduced.

The flood of corrections has been met with some skepticism by the water board. Max Gomberg, a senior staff scientist, calls the last-minute scramble “unfortunate.” He says the state has always been available if local water districts were unsure about the methodology they used to measure per capita water use.