California Imposing New Water Regulations

California Imposing New Water Regulations

( – With record high temps across much of California and the southwest, water shortages and drought conditions have become commonplace. During these incidents, states often impose rigid water usage restrictions. Now, the Golden State is making some of these restrictions permanent — whether drought conditions exist or not.

Unlike most drought restrictions, which impose regulations on individuals and businesses, the new requirements from the State Water Resources Control Board (RCB) target retail water suppliers. The RCB has tasked them with reducing water usage by around 30% over the next 15 years. The suppliers must find ways to help consumers become more water efficient or face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

These guidelines, nicknamed “Making Conservation a California Way of Life,” will not replace urgent acute drought measures as needed. Yet, the RCB hopes that by implementing these measures now, it can avoid implementing more painful measures on consumers later.

The regulations recognize that not every area in the state has the same needs, so the 30% figure is an average and not a hard line for every city and county. Some factors that will impact the percentage of change include climate, land usage, and past consumption.

The RCB will use a tool to determine each area’s 2040 target reduction rate. For instance, cities like Los Angeles might only see a 15% reduction target, while more rural towns like Antelope Valley could see a 42% reduction target.

These new guidelines are a direct result of legislation passed in 2018. Statutes SB 606 and AB 1668 established the foundation of water conservation and drought planning. These encompass both indoor and outdoor conservation efforts, landscape usage, and water loss issues.

The new guidelines will take effect on January 1, 2025, with cuts starting in 2027. As with any legislation of this type, these guidelines have opponents on both sides of the issue. Some retail water companies think the restrictions are too harsh, while some ecology organizations say they don’t go far enough.

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