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SoCal Pissing Off NorCal With Wanton Increases in Water Use

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The State Water Resources Control Board has released new results that show that, while water usage has declined in most of California in response to its very stubborn drought, water usage statewide has increased by one percent and the blame is resting on Southern California, reports the AP. The results showed that while many areas of the state had reduced their usage, two regions—the "South Coast" (including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Riverside) and a county in NorCal near the state's northeast border with Nevada—had enough of an increase to bring the whole state up. Whoops.

The results of the survey, which used data from water districts across the state in the month of May and compared them to numbers from previous Mays, pissed a lot of people off. The Water Board, in an official capacity, took a passive aggressive approach: "Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is ... and how bad it could be," says the chairwoman. "There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state." Northern California residents, speaking to the San Jose Mercury News about the survey, were more direct: "Here we have companies like Tesla and Google that are doing things every day that are better for the planet. But down there, they have all those Beverly Hills lawns and movie stars and high-dollar landscapers," says one San Jose resident. (In fact, the OC communities of Santa Ana and San Juan Capistrano were named and shamed as being among the biggest most liberal with their water.)

Are they right? Are Southern Californians awful? Just as the state agreed to impose fines of up to $500 on water wasters, the SGV Tribune reported that a couple in the San Gabriel Valley city of Glendora, who were following the requested lawn-watering regime of twice a week, received a notice from local officials warning them that their brown lawn was not in line with the city's "Pride of the Foothills" reputation. Says the letter: "Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green," and it gives the couple 60 days to green-up the lawn. So, don't water your lawn but also have it be green? Time to buy some tempera paints, people—we've got an image to uphold!

For what it's worth, SoCal water districts are saying that the new numbers don't accurately reflect the real conservation that's happening. A spokesperson for the LAWDP, speaking to the Mercury News, says LA uses 17 percent less water now than in 2009, when conservation measures were enacted, and that we use 129 gallons per capita per day, whereas the state average is 196. Santa Ana says the numbers are flat-out incorrect.
· California water use rises amid severe drought [PSN]
· See which Californians are increasing water use despite the drought [DB]
· California drought: Blame L.A.? Not so fast, Southern California water officials say [SJMN]
· What's Causing California's Worst Drought in Centuries? [Curbed LA]