Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

Population growth could stymie California water conservation efforts

by Take Two

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EAST PORTERVILLE, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Low water is seen at the dam of Lake Success as rain totals remain insufficient to break the worsening drought on February 11, 2015 near East Porterville, California. Many local residents, whose water wells have run dry, fill their tanks with free non-potable water for flushing toilets, bathing and laundering and use bottled water for drinking and washing dishes. Many of the dry wells of 926 homes in Tulare County dried up last summer when some 17 California communities ran out of water. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) David McNew/Getty Images

When it comes to the drought in California, we've got some good news and some bad news.

Good news first: Reporters at the Sacramento Bee have been crunching the numbers and they've found that California is on track to meet a state mandate to reduce water consumption.

Urban water agencies have responded to a 2009 state law that requires them to reduce per-capita water consumption 20 percent by 2020, compared with use at the start of the century. Now it looks like most agencies are on track to reach that goal.


Now the bad news: It's possible the state's continued population growth may outstrip conservation efforts anyways. That's according to SacBee's data that shows that, by 2030, California’s population is expected to reach an estimated 44 million people. That means a big surge in water demand statewide, even as people continue to use less water; and despite the state's best efforts, demand could outstrip supply.

Newsha Ajami is a director of urban water policy at Water in the West, a research group at Stanford University.  She told Take Two that these projections should be considered very cautiously, especially since big cities all across the state are just now beginning to implement long-term conservation strategies.

Curious about how well your city conserved water last year? Click here to see whether water consumption rose or fell in your area between December 2013 and December 2014.

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