More than 100,000 Fresno homes will be part of a “groundbreaking” and “novel” three-month research study to see whether easing up on water restrictions and reducing fines for excessive water use will actually spur greater conservation by residents. The University of Chicago’s Energy and Environment Lab is working with the city’s Public Utilities Department on the summer pilot project.
California cities and towns may find themselves on a water budget in the next decade under a pair of bills approved Thursday by the legislature. The measures follow Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to make water conservation a permanent way of life in a state long accustomed to jewel-green lawns and suburban tracts studded with swimming pools.
California is one step closer to a more resilient and secure water future for our communities, environment, and economy thanks to the passage of two bills in Sacramento this week. The pair of bills, SB 606 by Senator Hertzberg and AB 1668 by Assembly Member Friedman, build on lessons learned during California’s recent drought, which identified significant gaps in water use data and planning and demonstrated that Californians are ready to use water more efficiently.
The relatively dry 2017-18 winter in California resurfaced recent memories of drought conservation mandates. From 2013-16, urban water utilities complied with voluntary, then mandatory, water use limits as part of Executive Order B-37-16. Urban water utilities met a statewide 25 percent conservation target, helping the state weather severe drought. Winter rains in 2016-17 led to a reprieve from mandatory conservation.
This spring in California several orchards around Solano and nearby counties sported a new look: lush carpets of mixed grasses growing as tall as 3ft beneath the trees’ bare branches. By summer the scene will change as farmers grow and harvest their nut crops, but the work of the grasses will continue unseen. Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California.
Facing a water crisis toward the end of the last millennium, the Southern Nevada Water Authority in 1999 began offering to pay valley residents and businesses to trade in their water-consuming natural grass lawns for more sustainable landscape.
There may not have been a “March Miracle” when it came to the snowpack in the state, but there was sure one when it came to water conservation. The State Water Resources Control reported that in March urban Californians used 24.8 percent less water than in March 2013, the benchmark year considered to be before the drought.
I’ve [John Fleck] given more than 30 public talks around the western United States since my book came out nearly two years ago, and every time I talk I include a bunch of graphs and data making the same point – water use is going down.
With California in a severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board ruled last week that some cases of water waste could be treated as criminal infractions. … The Sacramento Bee asked Sacramento utilities director Dave Brent how the city was dealing with the state’s latest ruling.
In a little-noticed provision of the regulations adopted Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board declared that public agencies – in addition to individuals and businesses – can be prosecuted for a criminal infraction and fined $500 per day for certain categories of water waste.
From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):
The recent mandatory water restrictions put in place by the state were the topic of an interview on July 16 by Judy Woodruff during the PBS News Hour of Timothy Quinn, ACWA Executive Director, and Craig Miller of KQED. Much of the focus of the interview was on just how serious the drought is and why the regulations are necessary right now.
From the PPIC Viewpoints blog, in a post by Caitrin Chappelle, Ellen Hanak and Jeffrey Mount:
The unprecedented restrictions on outdoor water use that the state enacted this week send a message that Californians need to conserve more water. But we can do more to move toward sustainable consumption.
On the same day the state approved mandatory outdoor watering restrictions with the threat of $500 fines, the Southern California couple received a letter from their city threatening a $500 penalty for not watering their brown lawn.
The state Water Resources Control Board released a survey this week that revealed that Californians actually have increased their water use amid the worst drought in decades — despite a spirited public-relations campaign about saving water.