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California’s New Water Conservation Laws

While the 5-year drought may have been declared over, California is still cracking down on water usage. New laws are being put in place to enact water conservation even in years without drought conditions. This is not a surprise considering the political and economic push for sustainable distributed energy in California. It is clear they want to conserve and be efficient in all things that affect their environment and their pocketbooks.

California residents are facing restrictions from two bills sponsored by Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). These restrictions are part of an overall target for water consumption that utility companies must come up with by 2022. Residents will feel the limitations on their water consumption. Each person will be allowed 55 gallons of water per day. Outside limitations are still in discussion.

Once approved by the State Water Resources Control Board, these targets will be required to comply with certain standards. This includes the water allowance per person, per household for outdoor use (not yet determined), and water loss due to pipe leaks. Simply put, it’s a strong push to make California a leader in water conservation.

But, what does this mean for water agencies? Likely, it will be incentives or rebates to plant drought-tolerant plants, buy water-efficient appliances, and more. Droughts may still occur, but even in non-drought years, restrictions will apply. Perhaps this will ultimately prevent droughts and keep California’s water supply on an even keel.

The political climate is rich with debate on this matter. We’ll see in coming months how the laws form to be flexible enough for population growth and unique locale requirements.

“They are definitely a step in the right direction,” said Tracy Quinn, water conservation director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, of the new laws. “The framework strikes the right balance between local control and necessary state oversight.”