Californians make big cuts in water usage, report says

After months of appeals to conserve water, Californians appear to be finally getting the message, making substantial cuts in water consumption in the face of the state's drought.

Some of the biggest savings have come in Southern California, which faced criticism earlier this year for increasing water use at a time when the rest of the state was cutting back, according to state records released Tuesday.

Southern California increased water use by 8% in May compared to the average during that period from 2011 to 2013. But over the summer, the region saw modest reductions, culminating in August with a 7.8% decline from August of the previous year, according to a report from the State Water Resources Control Board.

"We wish it had come earlier, but people are responding," said Max Gomberg, the board's senior environmental scientist. "Southern California has roughly half of the state's population. What happens in Southern California is critical to how things look at the statewide level."

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