The Bay Area has a limited supply of water and a growing population -- a bad combination. The Bay-Delta ecosystem -- the system of streams, rivers, lakes, and the bay -- that we rely upon to supply our water at home and work is stretched to the point of collapse. While about 80 percent of the water diverted from the Bay-Delta goes to agriculture, urban use accounts for billions of gallons each year (more than 410 billion gallons in 2000, for example). Finding ways to conserve water is one of the most important environmental challenges we face.
NRDC researchers examined data on residential water deliveries and populations served, relying on information reported by five major water agencies in the Bay Area for 1999 and 2000. Researchers calculated per-person totals by dividing the total residential deliveries of water by the population served. That figure was then divided by 365 to arrive at the daily per-person figure.
Overall, water use has increased in these five service areas. Researchers also found that between 1999 and 2000:
- Residential water deliveries by all five agencies increased nearly 4 percent.
- Per-person residential water use in the areas served by all five agencies increased by almost 3 percent.
- East Bay and Alameda County agencies reported increases in deliveries of about 4 percent and 3 percent respectively. San Francisco's agency reported the only drop in residential use -- about 1 percent. The agency also registered a 3 percent drop in per capita use.
- Per capita use in San Jose increased nearly 7 percent, while residential deliveries increased almost 13 percent.