California Urban Water Use Down 11.5% as Drought Persists

Californians living in the state’s urban areas cut their water use by 11.5 percent in August as conservation efforts expanded to meet a record drought.

Water savings climbed from 4 percent in June and 7 percent in July, compared with a year ago, according to data released today by the California Water Resources Control Board. Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January and asked the public to curb water use by 20 percent.

The most populous U.S. state is in a fourth year of record low rainfall, with extreme drought in more than 80 percent of California. Water supplies to the nation’s most productive agricultural region has been rationed and voters are being asked to approve $7.1 billion in debt to upgrade aqueducts, reservoirs and pipelines to Southern California.

The region lowered its consumption 7.8 percent, compared with an increase of 8 percent in May, according to the water board.

Emergency rules approved in July allow fines against wasting water. Residential and business property owners face fines of as much as $500 a day if runoff from over-watering lawns flows onto streets or sidewalks. Residents washing cars without shutoff nozzles on hoses also face penalties.

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