look for
Saving Water in
California is a mosaic of diverse culture, climate, and geography from its hot, dry
deserts to its snowcapped peaks and foggy shores. The state's varying water
needs and resources are both a reflection and a consequence of this diversity.
Balancing water supply and demand is a perennial problem for California. This has
made the state a national leader in water efficiency and conservation initiatives.
California relies on three main, interconnected water
sources: mountain snowpack, reservoirs, and aquifers:1
•	The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which melts in the
spring and summer, provides runoff to rivers and
reservoirs. In normal years, melted snowpack
typically supplies about 30 percent of the state's
water supply.2
•	The state's reservoirs store water from precipitation
events and receive the runoff from melting
snowpack. Less precipitation and snowpack results
in decreased reservoir storage.
•	When the supply of surface water is unable to meet
demand, groundwater is pumped from aquifers,
accounting for nearly 60 percent of the state's water
supply in a dry year.3
•	Beginning in 2012, California experienced not only
its driest three consecutive years, but also
historically high temperatures. This resulted in well-
below-average snowpack. A survey of the Sierra
Nevada snowpack in April 2015, when snowpack is
typically highest, revealed that there was no snow.2
•	Due to declining snowpack, the supply of water in
the state's reservoirs has also decreased. In August
2015, the major reservoirs were at 17 to 62 percent
of their historical average storage levels.4
•	As a result, Californians have increased their
reliance on groundwater, causing the depletion of
aquifers. Seventy-four percent of the groundwater
well levels declined by more than 2.5 feet from the
fall of 2011 to the fall of 2014.5
•	California is the most populous state, home to 38.7
million people as of January 2015.6 Since about half
Drought conditions have caused water levels in California's
Lake Oroville to consistently decline over the years, as seen
by the change in visible land surroundings highlighted above
between 2011 and 2014.
of municipal water use is devoted to landscaping
and a third to residents' home use, there are
significant opportunities for conservation.
PHONE (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) WEBSITE www.epa.gov/watersense EMAIL watersense@epa.gov
A rr\A EPA-832-F-15-006
V>trr\ September 2015

Saving Water in California
•	The U.S. Geological Survey's 2010 water use
survey estimated that Californians used an average
of 108 gallons of water each day for indoor and
outdoor domestic use.7
•	Due to severe drought conditions:
o Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of
emergency in California in January 2014.8 More
than 71 percent of the state was experiencing
an extreme drought as of August 2015.9
o More than 400,000 acres of farmland in the
Central Valley, Central Coast, and Southern
California were left fallow in 2014.10
•	Governor Brown mandated an overall 25 percent
reduction in water use, compared to 2013, by March
2016.11 This measure is expected to save
approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water through
the following measures:
o State and local governments want to replace 50
million square feet of lawn and ornamental turf
with drought-tolerant landscapes,
o New homes and developments cannot use
potable water for irrigation,
o Local water providers have begun enforcing
restrictions focused on outdoor water use.
o Campuses, golf courses, cemeteries, and
similar entities face water use restrictions,
o The state has passed new standards for
plumbing products.
Many municipalities and utilities in California are
partners with WaterSenseฎ, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency program that offers people a simple
way to identify products and homes that use less water
and perform well. Since 2010, the number of
WaterSense partners in California has doubled to more
than 600. Some notable water conservation efforts by
partners include the following:
•	The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership
hosted a series of one-day "Drought Drive-Up"
events in April 2014 to provide more than 5,100
households with a free, customizable drought kit
containing WaterSense labeled showerheads and
bathroom faucet aerators, kitchen faucet aerators,
shower timers, and other products.
California drought conditions as of August 2015. (Source:
U.S. Drought Monitor)
•	The San Diego County Water Authority partnered
with The Home Depot to offer residents low water-
using plants at discounted prices at the San Diego
County Garden Friendly Plant Fairs in spring 2015
and designed free WaterSmart Landscape
Makeover Series classes and events.
•	Through its Orange County Garden Friendly
initiative, the Municipal Water District of Orange
County co-hosted educational booths at three Home
Depot garden centers in April and May 2014 to
educate more than 700 customers about water-
efficient landscapes and the importance of "sprucing
up" their irrigation systems. Rebates were also
offered on WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers.
•	The East Bay Municipal Utility District is offering
qualified applicants rebates to install irrigation
upgrades and convert their lawns to sustainable
landscapes. Single- and multi-family homes (e.g.,
four units or less) are eligible to receive rebates up
to $2,500, while commercial and larger multi-family
properties can receive up to $20,000.
For more information, visit www.water.ca.gov and
1	www. wate r. ca. g ov/wate rco n d iti o ns/wate rco n d it io ns. cfm
2	www.water.ca. gov/news/newsreleases/2015/040115snowsurvey.pdf
3	www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/docs/Drought_Response-Groundwater_Basins_April30_Final_BC.pdf
4	cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraphsMain.action
5	www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/maps_and_reports/MAPS_CHANGE/DOTMAP_F2014-F2011.pdf
6	ca. gov/drought/pdf/How-Water-Used-l n-CA-Urban. pdf
7	pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1405/
8	gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=18368
9	droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA
10	news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10978
11	gov.ca.gov/news. php?id=18910
Abnormally Dry
Moderate Drought
Severe Drought
Extreme Drought
Exceptional Drought