California’s water system would work well if it were not for wasteful homeowners in Southern California.
The image of Southern Californians as water villains is based on misperception of actual water use practices across the state. Average water use per person in the South Coast is, in fact, among the lowest in California.
Water utilities in the South Coast also provide significant incentives for conservation. For instance, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has spent more than $185 million over the last decade encouraging adoption of water-efficient appliances, drought-resistant landscapes, and other conservation practices.
Overall, the South Coast used nearly 450,000 acre-feet less water in 2005 than a decade earlier, despite having 2.4 million additional residents.
The urban sector as a whole accounts for just over 20 percent of water use in California, and utilities in virtually every region are working to reduce per capita use. Making one region into a villain oversimplifies the complex water demands in California and suggests that water conservation is a bigger issue in one region or one sector rather than for the state as a whole.