Some months ago, I complained in the newspaper about water consumption in Palm Springs:
Today … customers of the Desert Water Agency, which serves Palm Springs, consume an average of 540 gallons of water per person per day.
Having just visited Palm Springs on a desert vacation, I had that number in mind last week when the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority released its latest per capita calculations. They show that water usage in the Albuquerque area in 2011 dropped below 150 gallons per person per day, down from 252 gallons when water conservation efforts began in the mid-1990s.
I stand corrected. A new report compiled by California’s Department of Water Resources (pdf) puts the Desert Water Agency’s consumption at 736 gallons per person per day. Here in Albuquerque, we’re at 150. Compare that to, say, Sydney, Australia, which is down to 83.
The Desert Water Agency number is part of the first phase of California’s “20 by 20“, an attempt to get water agencies to cut per capita use 20 percent by 2020. I’m guessing the Desert Water Agency isn’t going to have to break much of a sweat to get down to 589 gallons per person per day.
In fact, the map that breaks down the current usage numbers by region suggests there’s a lot of easy improvement possible in California’s municipal water usage. A state that’s flush enough to have vast areas of the state above 200, and even the densely populated south coast region from Los Angeles to San Diego at 189 has plenty of room to move. I realize we talk about California water with the rhetoric of a looming crisis. And there are some real problems to be sorted out. But these numbers show that California’s municipal water users have a lot of room to move.
Hat tip to ACWA for linking to the report.