Drought: Beverly Hills is big water user; East L.A. is the lowest

Water flows into a small pool in the back courtyard of a home in Beverly Hills. The city is Southland's biggest water user, officials announced Tuesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Californians continued to use less water in September, but the reductions were more modest than in the summer months, and water use varied greatly by community, officials said Tuesday.

This marked the first time that state officials released data on per-capita water use for scores of communities across California. The full list will be released later this afternoon.

In an interview, State Water Resources Control Board scientist Max Gomberg offered one contrast: The city of Beverly Hills used 286 gallons per person per day in September. Meanwhile, the East Los Angeles district of the California Water Service Co. used just 48 gallons per day, the lowest in the Southland.


On average, Southern California residents used 119 gallons per person per day. But Gomberg cautioned that significant variation exists within large districts such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where residents used 93 gallons per day.

Overall, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that Californians cut their water consumption 10.3% -- about 22 billion gallons -- in September, versus the same month a year earlier. That was down from 11.5% in August, representing the first dip since officials began keeping close track of monthly water use in June.



Nov. 5, 4:58 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Californians cut their water consumption by about 22 million gallons in September. They cut their use by 22 billion gallons that month.


“We are now moving into the cooler and hopefully rainier part of the year,” Gomberg said during his presentation. “That’s not reason for people to let up.”

Statewide, officials said per-capita usage ranged widely with some areas using more than 500 gallons per capita per day and others using less than 50.

State water officials and other experts have long maintained that Southern Californians have been conserving water aggressively for years. Although many Northern California hydrologic regions have shown steeper cuts at each checkpoint, officials have warned against drawing compositions because many southern residents are already using less water than their northern neighbors.

“People should not be rushing to judgment or celebration, or ‘we’re better than you guys,’” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the state water board said in the meeting. Though she added that per-capita data would provide a “useful view of what’s possible.”

“The transparency of it should lead some agencies and residents to wonder why they aren’t doing more,” she said.

After a slow start, Southern California has rallied to cut its water use in recent months. In May, the board report showed an 8% increase in the region’s water use, but by August, use was down 7.8%. The board’s latest report showed the region’s September water use down by 7.5% -- mirroring the state’s trend.

The state’s 10.3% cut falls far short of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 20% reduction goal. Water officials did not speculate at length about why water conservation had declined, but said cooler temperatures and lower overall water use could be contributing factors.

“We’re doing well. We saw a really impressive response from June through August,” Gomberg said. “It’s not about making it to 20%.”

Follow @MattStevensLAT for drought coverage, Westside reports and breaking news