High Water Mark: Using a Little Less Than a Whole Lot of Water Is Still a Lot of Water

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission asked you to use less water. And, lo, you're using less water. Statistics, toted by the PUC, bear this out.

And yet, as with all things related to the drought and water use, things grow complicated.

So, yes, systemwide daily usage has dropped 18 percent since the agency's late January call for conservation, from about 207 million gallons per day to 171 million gallons in early March.

But confounding things is that the 207 million gallons consumed daily in late January is far, far more than the daily amount of water PUC customers were using last year or, on average, between 2009 to 2013 — by some 30 million to 40 million gallons daily.

Customers' daily water use in early March for the years 2009 to 2013 averaged out to 174 million gallons. So, at the PUC's behest, we've reduced our consumption from a high rate to an amount a shade below where we usually are.

The real test of our ability to conserve will come in April, when daily water use typically approaches 250 million gallons a day en route to damn near 300 million by mid-July.

Conserving now is good. But, compared to what may come, it could be mere drops in the bucket.

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