California misses the mark on water conservation target

Water agencies ordered to activate level 2 of drought contingency plans

Governor Newsom signed an executive order this week calling for water agencies to activate Level 2 of their drought contingency plans and for the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to explore implementing regulations to ban irrigation of “non-functional” turf at industrial and commercial buildings.

“While we have made historic investments to protect our communities, economy and ecosystems from the worsening drought across the West, it is clear we need to do more,” said Governor Newsom. “Today, I am calling on local water agencies to implement more aggressive water conservation measures, including having the Water Board evaluate a ban on watering ornamental grass on commercial properties, which will drive water use savings at this critical time.”

To further conserve water and strengthen drought resiliency, the Governor is encouraging suppliers, where appropriate, to consider going above and beyond Level 2 of their water shortage contingency plans.

Level 2 varies by provider, but in most cases, it requires a limit to the number of days a week that residents can irrigate landscaping. In some areas, Level 2 also triggers higher rates or penalties for residents who use more than a set amount of water.

The executive order also includes several other provisions such as:

  • Cuts red tape so communities that need access to emergency hauled or bottled water can get it immediately
  • Requires local permitting authorities to coordinate with Groundwater Sustainability Agencies to ensure new proposed wells do not compromise existing wells or infrastructure
  • Streamlines permitting for groundwater recharge projects that help refill aquifers
  • Directs the Water Board to expand site inspections in order to determine whether illegal diversions are occurring

The full text of the executive order can be found here.

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