California Water Board Poised To Strengthen Water Conservation Regulations As Unprecedented Drought Persists

Mar 17, 2015

Waterkeeper organizations throughout California call for permanent, deeper reforms

Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Program Director, 510-735-9700 x107

(Sacramento, CA) – The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is expected to adopt an expanded emergency urban water conservation regulation today. The State Water Board’s action comes on the heels of new NASA data showing that California has approximately one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and a poor showing of statewide water conservation in January. (State water use in January 2015 was reduced by 8.8% compared to use in January 2013; the Governor’s emergency drought order requires a 20% reduction requirement compared to 2013).

The State Water Board’s action will expand upon the emergency regulations adopted last spring. The new regulations formalize basic water conservation practices and include measures such as a prohibition to water lawns during and 48 hours following a rain-event, a requirement that restaurants only serve water upon request, and a requirement that water agencies promptly notify customers of leaks.  

Many water stakeholders are calling for additional, permanent changes as hotter, drier conditions could become the new normal in California. The state should pursue measures that would save water in greater amounts such as stricter regulations on outdoor water use and landscape watering, requirements to use recycled rather than potable water to water golf courses, and sending better price signals to high water users.

Coastkeeper Alliance and California Waterkeeper organizations issued the following statements:

“The State Water Board’s extension of the water conservation regulations are a logical and reasonable next step, but this epic drought calls for deeper and permanent reform,” said Sara Aminzadeh, the Executive Director of California Coastkeeper Alliance.

"The state's new conservation measures, if properly enforced, will send the right message to the public. When we can drive down residential streets in the Bay Area and see brown lawns and dirty cars, that's when we'll know that the reality of water scarcity is sinking in," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, San Francisco Baykeeper Program Director.

"Local jurisdictions have to implement and enforce these measures are to actually reduce water usage. Many of the State Board’s mandatory measures are still not enforced in Los Angeles. Until Californians take the drought seriously, we will continue to see reserves depleted and the future become more uncertain,” said Liz Crosson Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director.

“Education alone is not enough, and those who continue to waste should be held accountable. Furthermore, any adopted measures will fall flat if not properly enforced,” said Matt O’Malley with San Diego Coastkeeper.

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