Wednesday May 11, 2022


Drought? Californians apparently don’t care.

Last July, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency and asked Californians to cut urban water use 15% compared to 2020 levels.

But in March, residents instead cranked up the taps, increasing urban water use a staggering 18.9% statewide compared to March 2020 — with even higher levels in Southern California than Northern California, new data released Tuesday shows.

Water experts said Tuesday it might be disaster fatigue, an unusually dry spring, or the lack of statewide mandatory conservation standards. But they say the trend is troubling as the drought heads into the hot summer months, with no guarantees it will end next winter or the one after that.

“We just came off the driest January, February and March in recorded history,” said Jeffrey Mount, a professor emeritus at UC Davis and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s water center. “It was a jaw-droppingly dry three months. People started turning on their sprinklers early. That’s where the water went. To their lawns. Pure and simple.”

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