Californians fall a bit short of Brown's call for 25% cut in water use after 9 months of conservation

After nine months of fervent conservation, drought-fatigued Californians narrowly missed meeting the water-savings target set by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago.

Urban dwellers reduced their consumption by 23.9% between June and February, state regulators said Monday, just short of the 25% cut required under Brown's executive order.

Still, the conservation efforts saved about 368 billion gallons of water, or enough to supply nearly 6 million Californians for a year.

Officials have said it is unlikely that the state as a whole would face any consequences for missing Brown’s standard by such a small margin, but individual water suppliers could still face penalties.

“We were hoping we’d get a miracle March -- we got a modest March, which definitely beats the horrendous conditions we’ve had,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board.

“We’re nowhere near having a ‘drought’s over party,’ ” she said, adding that a “subdued … its-way-better-than-the-last-few-years party” would be more appropriate.

California’s cumulative water savings dipped below 25% in recent months as the weather turned colder and people began using less water. In February, residents and businesses cut their usage by only 12% compared with the same month in 2013, officials said. By comparison, they saved 31.4% in July.

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