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California Water Board Says February Savings Were Worst Yet

California's water board said Tuesday that February was the worst month for conservation since officials began tracking savings efforts nine months ago in response to the state's historic drought. Figures reported by local water departments showed statewide reductions of just 3 percent in February compared with baseline numbers, despite following the driest January on California record.

Dismal February conservation helped prompt Gov. Jerry Brown's demand for mandatory water reductions last week, his spokesman Evan Westrup said. The governor is calling for a 25 percent drop in statewide urban water use compared to 2013, the year before he declared a drought emergency. The report showed February water use increasing 2 percent along the south coastline, which includes Los Angeles and San Diego. San Francisco Bay Area communities, meanwhile, cut back by 8 percent.

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"Obviously, these are sobering statistics and disheartening statistics," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. Local agencies attributed the poor showing to February temperatures being hotter than they were in 2013, when water use was already very low.

The State Water Resources Control Board also began discussing Tuesday how to enforce new mandatory reductions, fast-tracking regulations that will likely come up for a vote next month. The requirements are likely to include cutback targets based on how much water city residents use.

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--- The Associated Press