California Issues Mandatory Water Use Reductions

April 2, 2015

Yesterday, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he was ordering the first mandatory water use restrictions in the state's history. In an executive order, he directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25% reduction on the state’s local water supply agencies.

According to an article in The New York Times, the water agencies — which supply water to approximately 90% of the state’s population — will be responsible for determining the specifics of how they will accomplish this water use reduction. State officials indicated they are prepared to penalize those who do not meet the new mandate with punishments such as fines.

The new restrictions will have effects on residents and commercial and industrial entities alike, especially when it comes to watering and irrigation. The state intends to impose restrictions golf courses and cemeteries, and will require the use of non-potable water for watering medians. The executive order also will require the replacement of 50 million acres of ornamental turf with landscaping that uses less water.

The New York Times report indicated that most large farms will not be affected by the 25% reduction requirement because they do not get their water from water agencies. Due to this, state officials believe that, for the time being, food prices will not rise. Farms will, however, be required to provide detailed reports about their water use to state regulators.

Homeowners likely will feel the pinch when it comes to watering lawns and landscaping, and possibly also on water uses inside the home, such as showering. State and local governments intend to offer temporary rebate programs for homeowners who replace older water-using appliances with water-efficient models.

The California drought has stretched into its fourth year, and the forecast looks bleak. Brown chose to announce the water use restrictions from a place that could not illustrate the state’s plight better: a field in the Sierra Nevada in Phillips, Calif., where the snow would normally be 5 ft deep at this time of year — but yesterday was simply a field of dry grass.

What are your thoughts on California’s new water restrictions — will they be enough, or are more drastic measures required? Tell us in the comments, or e-mail use at [email protected].

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