Moving to bolster California’s water supplies and resilience to climate change through long-term water conservation practices, the State Water Resources Control Board released a proposed regulation last week that would establish water efficiency goals for urban retail water suppliers in California.
The proposed regulation was developed to implement 2018 legislation, known as the “Making Conservation a California Way of Life” framework, which directed the board to adopt standards for more efficient urban water use along with performance measures for commercial, industrial, and institutional water use.
Each goal — called an urban water use objective — would take into consideration unique local conditions and special circumstances. Water suppliers, not individual households or businesses, would be held to the specified water use objectives.
If the State Water Board adopts the proposed regulation, the overall estimated reduction in water use would reach 8% in 2030, saving 414,000 acre-feet of water, and 9% in 2035, saving 446,000 acre-feet of water, enough to supply 1.3 million households for a year.
The proposed regulation would require suppliers to annually calculate their objective, which is the sum of efficiency budgets for a subset of urban water uses: residential indoor water use, residential outdoor water use, real water loss, and commercial, industrial and institutional landscapes with dedicated irrigation meters. Each efficiency budget will be calculated using a statewide efficiency standard and local service area characteristics, such as population, climate and landscape area.
To meet their objectives, suppliers are encouraged to use a wide variety of tactics to equip their customers with information and resources to foster wise water use, indoors and outdoors. Examples include education and outreach, leak detection, incentives to plant “climate ready” landscapes, and rebates to replace old and inefficient fixtures and appliances. The state’s Save Our Water website offers templates that suppliers can adapt for their needs.
More information, including the water use objective exploration tool, is available on the State Water Board website: Making Conservation A California Way of Life.