By Rory Carroll
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Drought-stricken California cut urban water use statewide by 31.3 percent during July, exceeding a government mandate to reduce consumption by 25 percent for a second consecutive month, the State Water Resources Control Board said on Thursday.
July's water savings moved the state 228,940 acre-feet (74.6 billion gallons) closer to the goal of saving 1.2 million acre-feet of water by February 2016, the target set by California Governor Jerry Brown's executive order in April.
The regulation requires more than 400 water suppliers in cities and towns statewide to provide monthly water use reports to the State Water Board. The regulation is primarily focused on reducing outdoor irrigation by residents and does not apply to industrial or agricultural operations.
"Californians' response to the severity of the drought this summer is now in high gear and shows that they get that we are in the drought of our lives," said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.
"This isn't your mother's drought or your grandmother's drought, this is the drought of the century," she said.
Dozens of communities reduced water use more than 15 percent beyond their conservation standards in July, while just four missed their target. The four were the cities of Livingston, Hanford, Blythe and the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District.
The State Water Board has sent compliance orders to nine suppliers that missed their targets in either June or July. The board has not yet levied fines for non-compliance, preferring to work with those communities to help enhance their performance, officials said during a conference call with reporters.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Dan Grebler)