August conservation rate shows improvement after Sonoma’s late start
Residents in the city of Sonoma used 25% less water last month than they did in August of 2020 — a considerably more impressive conservation rate than was reflected in state-reported figures for the month of July.
Public Works Director Colleen Ferguson announced the updated savings rate Friday in large part to encourage residents to continue the good work they were doing, though it also may serve to neutralize criticism in the wake of earlier data showing the city had cut consumption by just 3.8% in July.
“We’re doing a lot better, which is great to see,” Ferguson said.
Sonoma has been under a mandatory 20% conservation order since July 1 and, in the month prior, was urged to reduce water use voluntarily by 15%. Still months earlier, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency April 21 for Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
The city’s water conservation coordinator, Mike Brett, said continued reinforcement of water use restrictions, proliferating signage and free water-saving tools provided through the Sonoma Marin Saving Water Partnership, to which most of the region’s water suppliers belong, have been “a great way to get the word out and keep the conversation going.”
“Our city water customers have responded,” Brett said.
The State Water Resources Control Board has been collecting monthly water consumption data for years from cities and other water suppliers with 3,000 connections or more. But on Tuesday it released a new data set comparing July 2021 usage with July 2020, revealing highly variable conservation efforts throughout Sonoma County and the rest of the state.
Statewide, Californians used only 1.8% less water in July, in large part because more than half the state population lives in a region where the overall savings was just 0.1%, officials said.
In Sonoma County, July savings ranged from 3.8% in Sonoma and 7.6% in Rohnert Park to 36.5% in Cloverdale and 53.8% in Healdsburg.
Healdsburg residents were using more water start with, however, leaving more room to cut back. And both Healdsburg and Cloverdale were forced to make dramatic cuts because of pending orders that came late in the month curtailing withdrawals from the Russian River.
Sonoma, too, had higher consumption rates than Rohnert Park, where residents in July used 91.6 gallons per capita per day after cutting back 7.6%. By contrast, Sonoma residents used 165 gallons per capita per day in July.
Information on Sonoma’s water use restrictions is available at sonomacity.org/sonoma-city-council-declares-stage-2-water-shortage/.
You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or email@example.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.
Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat
I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment.