What's the state of water conservation in Tuolumne County during the current drought crisis?
According to Tuolumne Utilities District, the county's largest water purveyor, monthly usage has been on a gradual decline since mandatory water-use restrictions were approved by the agency's board on Jan. 28.
The district's total water usage for April was down 32 percent over the same month in 2013, an improvement from about 7 percent in February and 20 percent in March.
District spokeswoman Lisa Westbrook said continuing the trend will come in handy when snowmelt stops flowing into Lyons Dam, known as the "end of spill," which is predicted to occur by May 25 this year.
"Unfortunately, the end of spill is coming close," Westbrook said.
The late-May prediction for the end of spill is nearly two months earlier than normal because of the extremely light snowpack this winter in the Sierra Nevada, where about one-third of the state's total water supply originates.
After the end of spill, TUD must rely solely on what little storage is available in Lyons Reservoir, because federal regulations prevent TUD from drawing water out of upstream Pinecrest Reservoir until after Labor Day.
For the complete story, see the May 16, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.