Calif. Water Savings Dip in October

Calif. Water Savings Dip in October

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- California's latest water conservation may not appear as impressive as in past months, but a state official said that residents are exceeding a long-term order to save water during drought.

The State Water Resources Control Board is expected Tuesday to reveal how much water cities conserved in October.

For a fifth straight month, Californians have been under an order by Gov. Jerry Brown to conserve 25 percent compared with the same period of 2013, the year before Brown declared a drought emergency.

Felicia Marcus, board's chairwoman, would not reveal the October conservation figures before the formal release. In September, Californians reduced water use by 26 percent, just above the mandate.

Marcus blamed October's exceptionally warm temperatures. But she added that because the mandated savings began in June, California is meeting its 25 percent target considering several months altogether.

"I think people have gotten the message," Marcus said. "Californians are continuing to understand that they need to save water."

The state reported last month that California is more than halfway toward its conservation goal for the period ending in February. Statewide cutbacks amounted to 27 percent in August, 31 percent in July and 27 percent in June.

In September, state officials for the first time fined four water suppliers for failing to meet their individual conservation targets. Beverly Hills, Indio, Redlands and the Coachella Valley Water District were each fined $61,000. Continued violations could lead to a cease and desist order with potential fines of $10,000 a day.

The water-conservation efforts come as California experiences its driest four-year span on record.

Uncertain if drought-busting storms are coming this winter, Brown recently extended his executive order preparing the state for a fifth year of drought. It allows emergency conservation to continue through October 2016 if drought persists this January.

Forecasters this year predict a strong El Nino, a large weather system that can trigger changing weather patterns globally and can increase chances of heavy rain and snow pelting California.

So far, below average rain and snowfall have fallen on the northern Sierra Nevada, while the central Sierra has received above average precipitation, said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

It is too early to know what the wet season will ultimately deliver, he said.

"Every El Nino can be a little different," Shoemaker said. "There is a long way to go in this season."