California residents cut water use by hefty 29% in May, officials say

Drought-weary California received encouraging news Wednesday when officials announced that residential water use had dropped 29% during the month of May -- the first real indication that the state might meet unprecedented conservation reductions imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The cut in water usage suggests the aggressive campaign to get residents to change their lifestyle -- by taking shorter showers, replacing grass with drought-tolerant landscaping and buying water-efficient appliances -- is taking hold.

“My first response is almost disbelief,” said Mark Gold of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. “These results are beyond encouraging; they’re heartening. They make you realize that as a whole, people in urban areas are making the sacrifices necessary to get through this unprecedented drought.”

According to figures released by the State Water Resources Control Board, urban residents cut water consumption 28.9%, when compared with May 2013 -- a significant improvement over the 13.6% reduction reported for April. Brown is requiring urban areas to cut water use 25%, the first mandatory water rationing in California history.

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