Two years ago Lathrop used 76.75 million gallons of water for the month of December.
And now, two years later and in the face of California’s worst drought in decades, the city was able to curtail its water usage for the Christmas month by 16.8 percent down to only 63.88 million gallons of water.
While the decrease fell short of the State of California’s mandatory 20 percent reduction, Lathrop has been ahead of the curve when compared to the rest of the state when it comes to months where temperatures are typically warmer.
In October, the State of California averaged a 22 percent reduction in water usage while Lathrop was able to cut use by 25 percent. The month before, in September, the city used 28 percent less water than they did in 2013 for the same month – far and above the state average for what is typically considered to the “Indian Summer” in California’s Central Valley and one of the last months of the year that temperatures can still inch above the century mark.
Part of the reason that December’s water usage didn’t include as much of a drop off as the warmer months is actually quite simple – few people, if any, have needed to use residential sprinklers to their grass green as temperatures plummet and an El Nino system brings more moisture to Northern California than has been seen in the last several years combined. It isn’t expected to be enough to wipe out the “rain debt” of roughly 20 inches caused by the extended four-year period of dry, warm weather.
Lathrop is taking a proactive role in making sure that people comply with the letter of the law.
In September and October Lathrop issued 22 warnings to people who were found to be out of compliance with the city’s water ordinance, and that number, by December, had fallen to only two. Those who are observed breaking the city’s rules regarding water usage – watering on days when it’s not allowed, letting runoff flow into the street etc. – receive a door-hanger notifying them of the infraction and what they need to do in order to comply.