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San Diego County Reduces Water Consumption By 26 Percent

Photo caption: A woman works among drought-tolerant plants in her front yard in San Diego, J...

Photo credit: Associated Press

A woman works among drought-tolerant plants in her front yard in San Diego, July 9, 2014.

The region's water customers reduced consumption by 26 percent in September, compared with the same month two years ago, the San Diego County Water Authority reported Tuesday.

From July through September, water use was reduced 27 percent, beating the region's target of 20 percent, according to the Water Authority. State water officials set water consumption rates in 2013 as the conservation standard.

Jason Foster, the director of the public outreach and conservation department at the Water Authority, said September is a peak water month.

"Getting the savings that we've had so far this summer and now into the early fall is a great first step because these are peak water months. But just because peak water use months should be ending, hopefully they'll end pretty soon, doesn't mean the need to save water has diminished," Foster said.

The savings came despite a month in which the average temperature was 7 degrees higher than normal.

"The San Diego community keeps rising to the water conservation challenge despite exceptionally hot weather," said Mark Weston, chairman of the Water Authority Board of Directors.

"It's critical for our region to maintain a leadership role in conservation as we enter the fifth year of drought," Weston said. "While we all hope that El Niño will produce more rain and snow in coming months, there's no guarantee that will happen where we need it most — in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains."

Water Authority officials said even if El Niño produces heavy rains, more than one year's worth of precipitation will be needed to end the drought.

According to the agency, water being saved now is being stored for use next year, in case the drought continues.

KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson contributed to this report.

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