California is facing a crisis. Not only are its reservoirs already at critically low levels due to unrelenting drought, residents and businesses across the state are also using more water now than they have in seven years, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to encourage just the opposite.
Newsom has pleaded with residents and businesses to reduce their water consumption by 15%. But in March, urban water usage was up by 19% compared to March 2020, the year the current drought began. It was the highest March water consumption since 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board reported earlier this week.
Part of the problem is that the urgency of the crisis isn’t breaking through to Californians. The messaging around water conservation varies across different authorities and jurisdictions, so people don’t have a clear idea of what applies to whom. And they certainly don’t have a tangible grasp on how much a 15% reduction is with respect to their own usage.