California Energy Commission Takes Step to Save California Billions of Gallons of Water

California is experiencing an epic drought ... the worst in more than 1,000 years! And as we face a fourth consecutive year of drought - with no end in sight - that warrants bold and immediate action from the state.

NOAA

While our state leaders can't make it rain, there's a lot they can do to save water and ensure that Californians can also weather the next drought. For example, the California Energy Commission (CEC) today stepped up to save Californians billions of gallons of water.

In a meeting that took place earlier today, the CEC took emergency action to ensure that the toilets, urinals, and faucets sold in California will be the most water-efficient in the country.

According to the CEC, the new standards for kitchen and bathroom faucets, urinals, and toilets will reduce California water use by more than 100 billion gallons of water per year, once the current stock of products is turned over. To put that into perspective, we'll be saving three times the amount of water used by the City of San Francisco every year! The first year savings are expected to be around 10 billion gallons.

The action taken by the CEC today is unprecedented - no other state has adopted standards that are more efficient than those set by EPA's WaterSense program (the WaterSense program sets national voluntary standards for water efficient products similar to EnergyStar for energy efficient products). But today, the CEC unanimously voted that to set standards for urinals and residential lavatory faucets that go beyond WaterSense standards.

Next year, all urinals sold in California will use only 1 pint of water or less for each flush (the old standard was 1.0 gallons per flush, WaterSense is 0.5 gpf) and bathroom faucets will use no more than 1.2 gallons of water per minute (the old standard was 2.2 gpm, WaterSense is 1.5 gpm).

California is often the trendsetter when it comes to both water and energy efficiency, and hopefully other states will follow California's lead.

What does CEC's Emergency Regulation mean for you? As of January 1, 2016 all toilets, urinals, and faucets available for purchase in the state - both for homes and business - will be required to meet the new efficient standards. The Emergency Regulation also prevents stockpiling of older, less efficient models by retailers, as we have seen some do in the past just before new standards went into effect.

But the CEC's Emergency Regulation does NOT require you to replace your inefficient plumbing fixtures. To encourage you to replace those water-guzzling products, the CEC is working on a rebate program to make the purchase of more efficient appliances more affordable.

Wondering what else can you do?

  • If you're not in the market for a new faucet but still want to do your part, install a 1.0 gallon per minute faucet aerator on your bathroom faucet. Many water suppliers offer these aerators to their customers for free, simply check your water suppliers website.
  • For even more tips, check out NRDC's Nine Ways to Save Water or my blog on innovative ways to reduce your water footprint.

About the Authors

Tracy Quinn

Policy Analyst, Water program

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