SF water use decreasing but more savings needed 

click to enlarge Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
  • Years of drought have put added pressure on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
Water users in San Francisco and in the Bay Area communities served by The City’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and aqueduct are doing better in cutting water use amid a serious drought. However, they will need to do more, water officials said this week.

The 2.6 million homes and businesses in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto and the East Bay that use San Francisco Public Utilities Commission water were asked in January to cut use by 10 percent.

That reduction target was not met for most of the year, according to records, but water use dropped “substantially” to about 230 million gallons a day in late May and early June, said Steven Ritchie, the SFPUC’s assistant general manager for water.

That’s right at the 10 percent reduction target. But to meet annual reduction targets — and to avoid officials calling for a 20 percent cut, as has been done elsewhere in the Bay Area — SFPUC users will have to cut use more to an average of 209 million gallons a day, Ritchie said.

Daily water use varies wildly with the seasons, ranging from 170 million gallons a day in winter to over 270 million gallons in summertime, when demand is highest.

In San Francisco, water use was at 68 million gallons a day, according to the most recent records.

Water districts in Santa Clara and Alameda counties have already asked customers — many of whom have lawns and gardens, which account for most urban and suburban water use in California — to cut consumption by 20 percent, said Nicole Sandkulla, CEO of the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency.

The past three years are officially the three driest since hydrology records were first kept 90 years ago, Ritchie said. If three more dry years follow, that would be “the driest set of years since the year 900,” he said.

Water users in San Francisco use about 49 gallons a day.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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