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CA Drought Legislation Update

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

In a recent report on NPR.org a survey showed that in Orange County and San Diego the average resident uses 500 gallons of water per day!  This is a staggering statistic – sure not every resident uses this much water each day but water use (including outdoor residential use) when averaged out across these counties comes to 500 gallons per day used.  The majority of this use comes from outdoor water use including landscaping, lawns, plants and even other outdoor activities like washing cars.

In previous posts we have covered the drought and the response that has been taken by local governments to combat this ever threatening issue.  With statistics like above its imperative that governments do more to make residents conserve more water.  Because we had another winter with light snowfall in the Sierras the snowpack in North CA is hovering around all time lows.  This fact alone proves that there is no future guaranteed bail out from mother nature.  The only way to solve this problem will be at the local and individual level.

The government has made numerous attempts with a goal of encouraging residents to reduce their water use by 20%.  Most of these rules and regulation were put in place as recommendations or guidelines for people to follow – the rules were not mandated and rarely enforced.  These recommendations did contribute to an overall saving of approximately 8-10% but this is not enough.

Now Governor Gerry Brown has ramped up his game and made some serious legislation changes that residents will be mandated to follow.  Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday imposed mandatory water restrictions for the first time on residents, businesses and farms, ordering cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce usage by 25%.

“We’re in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

The 25% cut in usage amounts to roughly 1.5 million acre-feet of water (an acre foot of water equals about 325,000 gallons) over the next nine months, state officials said.

The reduction in water use does not apply to the agriculture industry, except for the requirement that it report more information on its groundwater use. The exclusion prompted some criticism, as agriculture uses about 80% of California’s developed water supply.  Farms in the state have taken a hit, with reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off. In the following weeks we will be covering the new ways the city plans to manage water our most precious resource.

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