As California faces the likelihood that the drought will drag on for yet another year, the state's urban water conservation numbers continue to increase.
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board released new monthly data that shows Californians cut back on water use by 10.4% in July compared to July 2020.
In June, statewide water consumption dropped by 7.4% compared to June 2020 and in May it dropped by 3.5%.
The new numbers show conservation gains in all 10 of the state's hydrologic regions, with the North Coast leading the way with a 28.5% water use reduction for July while the Bay Area reported a 17.3 reduction.
According to the Water Board, 14 counties -- six of them in the Bay Area -- reached or exceeded Gov. Gavin Newsom's call for a 15% voluntary reduction.
Sonoma achieved a 33.9% reduction, Marin reported 29.4%, Santa Clara hit 18.8%, Napa clocked it at 18%, San Mateo reached 17.9% and Alameda increased water savings by 16.6% in July compared to the same month in 2020.
In June, the second round of statewide emergency water use regulations took effect, which, among other things, bans irrigation of decorative grass on commercial, industrial and institutional properties.
They also require all 436 urban water suppliers to implement Stage 2 Water Shortage Contingency Plans.
These plans vary from supplier to supplier but often include things like rebates or other incentives for switching to drought-tolerant landscaping and fines or fees for overconsumption of water.
For example, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which called for a mandatory 15% water use reduction in 2021, offers a Landscape Rebate Program of up to $3,000 for residential customers and up to $100,000 for commercial and multi-family customers.
The water agency also offers rebates up to $400 for people who install a "laundry-to-landscape" greywater system.
"This year marks our third consecutive year of drought, with the distinction of having one of the driest starts to a year on record, and an all-time low imported water allocation," said Valley Water board chair Pro Tem John Varela.
In March, the California Department of Water Resources reduced its deliveries to suppliers from the State Water Project from 15% of requested supplies to just 5%.
Also, in April, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation limited deliveries of water to residential users from the Central Valley Project to just 55 gallons per person per day.
"To ensure we have enough water now and into the future, we must continue to make great strides in our conservation efforts," Varela said.