Californians used more water as state braces for another dry year

Californians used 2.6% more water in January compared to before the drought emergency was declared, a sign that urban residents are ignoring the state’s pleas to take the drought seriously and cut back.

The increased water use in California’s cities and towns came during the second-driest January on record, as the Sierra Nevada snowpack continues to dwindle — and another dry summer looms. 

The new data, which details urban water use statewide, shows that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s repeated pleas for a 15% voluntary cutback in water use are failing to reach people in cities and towns. Yet Newsom has stopped short of issuing a mandatory order. 

“With the voluntary call, some areas were doing okay, others not so well. The message gets pretty garbled. With a mandate, it’s a very clear message about the need,” said Heather Cooley, research director with the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. 

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