Santa Clarita Valley ratepayers who were commended by water officials for their diligence in conserving water are beginning to use as much water as they did before the latest drought.
A report on the supply and demand of water in the SCV was presented Tuesday to the members of the SCV Water Agency board.
It shows water production in July exceeded the amount SCV ratepayers required a year ago, and approached what we used in 2013, before the recent drought.
Despite the usage trend, however, SCV ratepayers are still to be commended for conservation habits honed during three years of drought.
“Our customers are still using less water than in 2013,” said Matt Dickens, SCV Water resource conservation manager. “But we are seeing a rebound; some of which is expected, while some can be attributed to inefficiencies such as irrigation runoff.
“We can still strive for water efficiency even as hotter weather and a rebounding economy have led to increased water usage. Eliminating irrigation run-off and checking for leaky toilets are two easy fixes,” Dickens said, pointing to tips and resources spelled out on the agency’s website: conserve.yourSCVwater.com.
The amount of water used by people in California in 2013 — before the drought — became the standard by which Governor Jerry Brown set his conservation goals, demanding communities across the state use 20 percent — and then 25 percent — less water than they did at that time.
And while the monthly conservation goals set during the drought have since been lifted, the long-term goal of reducing water usage across the state by 20 percent in the next two years remains in place.
“Twenty percent by 2020 is the first mile marker we need to reach,” Dickens said Tuesday.
“But the state Legislature, through SB 606 and AB 1668, set a specific goal of 55 gallons per day per person for indoor residential water use, starting in 2022,” he said. “Conservation will always be a necessary way of life in the Santa Clarita Valley and in the state of California.”
Repeatedly, during the drought, whenever water officials submitted their conservation numbers to water officials in Sacramento, SCV ratepayers were commended for having met the short-term state goals.
Nevertheless, since proclamation of the drought was lifted in 2016, local water officials have witnessed a “trend of demand rebound” in the amount of water used.
Before the recent drought, the annual retail demand for water in the SCV was, in 2013: 73,460 acre-feet that year. That amount dropped by more than 5,280 the year later after the drought was declared, and continued to drop as calls for conservation persisted.
In 2015, after ratepayers responded to a battery of conservative incentives launched by the water agency — such as the turf-replacement program — just 54,491 acre-feet of water was used.
However, water production rose in 2016, when the drought was officially over (57,966 acre-feet) and rose again last year (63,555 acre-feet).
During March, April and May, ratepayers demanded less water than each of those months last year — but that changed two months ago.
In July, SCV ratepayers used 8,012 acre-feet of water compared to 7,763 last year, nearing pre-drought levels of 8,524 acre-feet of water.
An acre-foot of water is about the same as a football field flooded with 1 foot of water.