SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (May 5, 2015) – Just a month after California Governor Jerry Brown announced his statewide drought directive to reduce urban water use by 25 percent, the State Water Resources Control Board has finalized regulations to implement those water reductions across the state. It’s the first time in the state’s history that the Board has implemented mandatory statewide water use reductions.
California is in its fourth consecutive year of drought, with 2012 through 2014 being the driest three-year period in the past 1,200 years. The Board’s action to require mandatory water use reductions for urban water suppliers throughout the state is both historic and necessary. By reducing water usage by 25 percent in cities and towns across California, the state will save approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.
Following is a statement from Steve Fleischli, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program:
“We don’t know when this drought will end and there’s simply not enough water to go around given the way we currently use it.
“These regulations are a critical step in making California more water resilient. The regulations take into account local practices and reward the most conscientious water users while asking some urban areas with the highest water use per person to do much better.
“The Board erred, however, by acting to shield some local water suppliers from their expected share of statewide water reductions based on their delivery of drinking water to 'commercial agriculture,' a term broad enough to encompass suburban homes with large lots landscaped with fruit trees.
“The stark reality is that we need to make the most of every precious drop of water we have left in California. And it’s absolutely critical that our leaders implement long- and short-term solutions to California’s water challenges.”
Today’s action is critical in ensuring that California’s limited supplies of water are managed in the public interest. The state’s drinking water systems serve nearly 39 million Californians and must be operated to preserve the essential functions upon which public health and safety depend. Drinking water needs to remain available for food preparation, bathing and sanitation, and system supplies and pressures must be sufficient to maintain fire-fighting capability in all urban areas. The waste and inefficient use of publicly supplied drinking water – unwise at any time – is creates instability and uncertainty during drought conditions. The curtailments ordered by the Board today will send the message to all communities statewide that as of today, conserving water is a shared responsibility for all Californians.