San Jose Water Conservation Efforts Flounder

South Bay city falls well short of 20 percent reduction goal set by Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown's call for Californians to reduce water usage by 20 percent appears to have fallen on deaf ears -- at least in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Records from the Bay Area's largest water agencies reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle show customers are conserving small amounts of water, if at all.

In San Jose, water use in the first quarter of the year was up over the same period in 2013. Elsewhere, customers have cutback, but not close to the 20 percent reduction Brown sought when he declared a drought emergency nearly five months ago.

San Jose water officials say their customers’ water usage is up 3-4 percent when compared to the first quarter of last year. The agency blames increased usage on an extremely dry winter, but all agencies had an extremely dry winter, yet saw their customers cut back on water usage.

The San Jose Water Company’s John Tang said getting the conservation message across to customers will take time.

“You can’t flip the conservation switch on and off,” Tang said.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says its 180,000 customers have cut back by 8 percent over the past three years prior to May, falling short of its voluntary cutback of 10 percent.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District’s 1.3 million customers have reduced their water usage by 10 percent since February.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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