CPSA: California Drought Update

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Despite December rains, a fourth year of drought conditions is predicted for California in 2015. John Norwood, president of the California Pool And Spa Association, apprises us of recent events in the ongoing struggle to maintain industry prosperity amid water shortage:

The last few days and weeks have brought California a lot of news about the state of our water this year, and on the face of things a lot of it doesn’t seem to add up. Following a very wet December in which the state received 6 inches of rain, a drastic change from the .5 inches that we got in December of 2013, it seemed that we were finally on the right path towards coming out of the drought. That hope was derailed however by a January with record-setting dryness, with rainfall numbers so bad that many parts of the state received no rain whatsoever for the entire month. These numbers, along with the fact that the Sierra snowpack that normally provides around 30% of California’s water is at less than 30% of normal for this time of the year, virtually guarantee that the state will have to suffer through a fourth year of drought.

However, it’s not all bad news. A report from the State Water Resources Control Board has announced that in December Californians not only met but exceeded the call from Governor Jerry Brown to cut their water usage by 20%. The SWRCB stated that urban water conservation statewide was at 22% for the month of December, and while it is generally agreed that this success was aided by the high rainfall totals during that month it is still a positive sign that conservation measures put in place throughout the state are working. Felicia Marcus, the chair of the board, stated that she was “going to take it all as good news,” and went on to state that these numbers show the ongoing importance of prudent water conservation even when rain makes it feel like there is no longer a pressing need to cut back.

The most drastic improvement in conservation came from Southern California, where the savings jumped from only 3% in November to 23% in December. Large savings also came from big cities and areas that generally use a greater volume of water, while communities that were already more water efficient per person saw smaller savings. In terms of per-capita water usage, consumption is down by half to 67 gallons per day, a huge drop from the 140 gallons per day that Californians were using in June. While water use is traditionally lower in the winter, the remarkable savings this December were a break from the norm and were quite an accomplishment for the state. These big savings in areas that traditionally consume large amounts of water illustrate just how important outdoor water conservation really is, as the rains in December removed the need for irrigation.

All of this data is going to factor into whether or not the SWRCB extends the emergency mandatory limits on water use that it put in place last year, which are set to expire this April. The board will host a public workshop to discuss the restrictions on February 18th, and a vote on whether or not to extend them will likely be on March 3rd.

CPSA, the California Pool and Spa Association, serves as the statewide public policy representative for the pool, spa, and hot tub industry, and advocates on behalf of industry interests before the California Legislature and state and local regulatory agencies, and for individual members dealing with enforcement issues.  

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