Article | January 11, 2023

How Much Has COVID Changed California Water Usage?

Source: Itron
GettyImages-1370511233_450_300 (002)

In July 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order asking all residents to reduce water consumption to 15% below 2020 levels. The order aims to address continued water shortages across the state. But some experts raised concerns that the targets are not aggressive enough. COVID caused many people to lose their jobs, quit their jobs, or begin working from home. The change in diurnal patterns caused a significant increase in residential consumption.

To have a meaningful impact, a 15% reduction would have to bring water consumption below pre-pandemic levels. But given the increase in residential water usage, would this be possible? And what role would weather play in the effort to cut usage? Itron conducted a detailed analysis of California water usage data to estimate both the feasibility and potential impact of a 15% reduction. This article summarizes the findings and reveals both the feasibility and effectiveness of the executive order, as well as the value that such analyses can have for water utilities nationwide.

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