For the first time since state-mandated water conservation targets were introduced earlier this year, customers of a large number of San Diego-area water districts missed their monthly goals in October, according to figures released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Of the 24 member agencies belonging to the San Diego County Water Authority, nine fell short and several others barely reached their goals. In past months, it's only been a few districts that didn't make their targets -- and they've generally been the ones with the toughest mandates.
Overall, Californians lowered their water use 22.2 percent compared to October 2013, below Gov. Jerry Brown's order of 25 percent, according to the board. Consumption levels from two years ago were set as the benchmark for comparisons.
State water officials cited higher-than-normal temperatures for most of the state, and fewer opportunities to conserve on an annual basis.
"We anticipated a dip in the conservation rate for October, but it is not because people are losing interest -- they actually did quite well considering how unusually hot it was in October," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board.
"It's harder to keep the percentages up in the fall and winter when little outdoor watering takes place," Marcus said. "That's why the savings over the summer were so important. Now, we need to keep finding ways to save water."
San Diego water agencies that missed their marks in October were:
-- city of Escondido, target of 20 percent, saved 15.7 percent
-- Ramona Municipal, 28 percent target, saved 27.7 percent
-- Carlsbad Municipal, 28 percent target, saved 18.7 percent
-- San Dieguito, 28 percent, saved 22.1 percent
-- Rincon del Diablo, 32 percent, saved 27.1 percent
-- Olivenhain Municipal, 32 percent, saved 24.9 percent
-- city of Poway, 32 percent, saved 29.7 percent
-- Fallbrook Public Utility District, 36 percent, saved 27.2 percent
-- Santa Fe Irrigation, 36 percent, saved 28.7 percent
Of those, the Escondido, Ramona, Rincon del Diablo, Poway, and Santa Fe districts did meet their cumulative conservation targets for the period from June to October.
The region's largest water agency, the city of San Diego, has a 16 percent reduction target. Customers saved 16.7 percent in October and have cut back use by 22.8 percent since June.
The state conservation mandates are scheduled to expire in February. State water officials will hold a workshop in Sacramento next week to discuss a potential renewal.