Good Job Saving Water, California! Now Don’t Get Cocky.

Despite the summer heat, urban water use fell by 27 percent in June.

<a href="http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/thumbs-up-in-death-valley-national-park-17716036?st=1f850ec">rafalkrakow</a>/iStock

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California’s State Water Board announced some good news today: As the state’s historic drought continues through its fifth hot summer, conservation efforts resulted in a reduction of urban water use of more than 59 billion gallons—six times the amount conserved during the same time last year—during the hottest June on record.

These are the first monthly water conservation numbers to be released since Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order calling for emergency regulations and a 25 percent reduction in urban water use across the state. The 27 percent saved in June exceeded his mandate, and Water Board officials say the state is now on track to meet its savings goal of 391 trillion gallons by February 2016. Officials are hopeful that they can maintain this conservation momentum in July and August, when water use tends to be highest, to offset the smaller savings usually seen in the autumn and winter months.

Water Board officials attribute the success to efforts by most of the state’s 409 water districts, the bodies that are in charge of allocating water to homes, businesses, farms, and other users. While 65 percent of water districts met conservation targets, the Water Board announced that it is starting to crack down on those that fell short.

During a press conference, officials revealed plans to help districts cut back even further. Soon, they will require water districts to increase outreach and enforcement at local levels, reduce the number of days a week outdoor irrigation is allowed, increase audits for large properties, and enhance programs that provide rebates and incentives for conservation.

The worst offenders—16 districts that were more than 15 percent behind on savings—could soon face fines between $500 and $10,000 a day, if they don’t follow the Board’s orders to reduce water use.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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