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Californians Meet Gov. Brown's Water-Use Target In December

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State officials reported Tuesday that residents in drought-stricken California met Gov. Jerry Brown's call to slash water use by 20 percent for the first time in December, when water use fell by 22 percent compared to the same month in 2013.

A survey of local water departments shows water use fell by 22 percent in December compared to the same month in 2013.

But officials at the State Water Resources Control Board cautioned that state residents may have been aided by a rainy month in December, which minimized the need to water lawns.

"It reinforces what we thought all along that the extent of outdoor water use is a huge driver of water conservation and water use," board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said.

Brown called on residents to cut water use by 20 percent when he declared a drought emergency last year. The closest Californians previously came to reaching that goal was in August, when water use dropped 11.6 percent compared with the previous year, according to the monthly surveys of water suppliers.

The state is urging continued conservation as California enters the fourth year of a drought. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides nearly a third of the state water, is 88 percent below normal.

An unseasonably dry January brought no measured rainfall in downtown San Francisco for the first time in recorded history.

More than 400 local water departments must report their residential per-capita water monthly water use compared with the year before.

The water board began collecting and publicizing the water-use numbers as part of its ongoing conservation campaign. The board imposed restrictions on watering lawns and washing cars last summer.

The water board's mandatory water restrictions are set to expire in April. The board is also considering extending and expanding those rules later this month.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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