Despite drought, Californians fall short in water conservation

- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers cut their water use by 13.7 percent in January, compared to the same month in 2013, below the 16 percent conservation mandate set by the state, according to
figures released Thursday.

Since June, when the water-cutback requirements went into effect, DWP customers have cut their use by a cumulative 16.4 percent, putting the agency just ahead of the state-set mandate, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Statewide, water customers reduced their use by 17.1 percent in January, compared to the same month in 2013 -- the state standard. The cumulative savings across the state since June was 24.8 percent, marking the first time
the conservation effort has fallen below Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of a 25 percent statewide reduction.

State water officials concede that opportunities to conserve water dry up during the fall and winter, particularly when it rains, because people don't have to irrigate their lawns or water their flowers. However, temperatures have been warmer than usual and El Nino-spawned rains have been sporadic at best.

"We're hoping for every raindrop and every snowflake we can handle. We're hoping for a miracle March and an awesome April,'' said State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.

"But we can't know what the next couple months will bring. And a warm and dry February has proved that we can't count on El Nino to save us,'' Marcus said. "Californians have risen to the occasion as never before. But we have to stay the course. We have to keep it up.''

Most Southland cities continued to surpass their water-savings goals, including Azusa, which has cut its use by 20.9 percent since June, ahead of its 20 percent mandate; Downey at 21 percent, ahead of its 20 percent requirement; and  Santa Monica at 21.4 percent, ahead of its 20 percent mandate.

Some cities, however, are falling short of the mandates, including Norwalk, Pasadena, Hawthorne, Fullerton and Arcadia. El Segundo continues to lag well behind its 20 percent conservation mandate, with a cumulative
conservation rate of 3.9 percent.

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