New State Conservation Regulations
Governor Brown signed into law SB 606 and AB 1668, ushering in a new era of state oversight of water use. These bills were necessitated by the severity of the recent drought and the growing evidence that California is becoming hotter, precipitation is becoming more erratic, and California will need to be prepared for multi-year or even decade-long droughts.
What You Need to Know About the New State Regulations
Based on industry recommendations the state set a provisional standard for indoor water use of 55 gallons per person, per day. This standard was based on a report produced by the Water Research Foundation. To ensure that this standard is reasonable the state will be funding a research study to determine an appropriate budget.
Also, the state is developing an outdoor water usage standard based on irrigated area and other factors like local climate conditions.
Based on these standards, all water districts will be given a maximum water budget for their agency. The budgets are being developed currently, with a draft budget expected January 2021, and the final budget at the end of 2021. While the state is developing the standards, we will be developing the tools and processes necessary to track and stay within the budget.
Proposals also include a requirement for each agency to develop a five-year drought plan, including conservation strategies necessary to achieve conservation levels that range from ten percent up to, and beyond, fifty percent reduction in water usage.
What does this mean for me?
These regulations will be coming into play over the next several years. Until our water allowance is issued by the state in 2021, we will not know for sure what conservation levels will be necessary. Early indications are that we may well have to conserve in the future as much water as we did during the recent drought.
The program will be fully in effect by 2027, and the state will have the ability to fine water agencies $1,000 a day or up to $10,000 a day during a drought. It will be the responsibility of the City water agency to stay within our assigned budget. The new law and water budget will require changes in how the City water agency operates and may require us to set individual residential water budgets to ensure that we can comply. We will be working over the coming years to develop and implement the systems needed to meet these new standards.
Permanent Water Conservation Ordinance Highlights
• Outdoor irrigation prohibited between 9 am – 5 pm.
• Outdoor irrigation limited to 15 minutes per station (exceptions for low volume systems)
• No watering during or 48 hours after any rain.
• No excessive runoff.
• No washing down of hard or paved surfaces.
• Leaks must be fixed within seven days.
Enforcement will be focused on voluntary compliance through education, but fines of up to $500 per occurrence will be levied on repeat offenders.
Banner photo courtesy FarOutFlora via Flickr and Creative Commons licensing.