Overall water use is climbing in Southern California as that part of the state plunges back into drought, driving state and regional water managers as they consider permanently reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.
Weather experts spent much of this winter cautiously optimistic. There were still weeks to go in the wet season and the reservoirs were full, thanks to last winter’s near record-breaking rain and snow. Now, even the professionals are getting more than a little nervous.
As California suffers through another dry winter, increasing fears that drought conditions may be returning, the state’s residents are dropping conservation habits that were developed during the last drought and steadily increasing their water use with each passing month.
The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1.
Worried about California’s dry winter? Interested in installing a rainwater capture system from your roof? A new state ballot measure written by an East Bay lawmaker and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday will put the issue before voters in four months.
In April 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown called on the people of the most populous state to reduce their water use by 25% in response to a punishing four-year drought. It was an audacious goal, and Californians came close to meeting it.
The last few months have seen a growing number of climate concerns – from historically devastating floods to record forest fires – with many regions still assessing the damage. Beyond recovery, planning and paying for more resilient infrastructure also remains an enormous challenge, and no quick and easy solutions seem to be on the way from Washington or elsewhere.
For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use. Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties. The situation turned critical during the 2012 to 2016 drought, when reservoirs sank to alarmingly low levels.
The state of California is looking to crack down on water wasters and make saving water a way of life — no matter how much it rains. California’s restrictions on water use in September were effective, As a result, the state saw a 15 percent drop in water use.
It was raining and Judy Adler had a broken gutter. What could have been a simple repair turned into an effort to capture rain and use it for her backyard pond. Since late 2009, Adler has collected up to 11,000 gallons of rain annually at her Walnut Creek home.
Good habits die hard, it seems, after five years of epic drought – for most Californians, anyway. The historic dry spell from 2012 to 2016 prompted many state residents to reduce their water consumption, as did strict regulations imposed by state agencies and individual water districts.
First the drought ended. Now the last vestiges of mandatory conservation rules are over, too. California’s main water regulatory agency ended mandatory conservation regulations for urban residents Wednesday, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s official declaration that the drought ended April 7.
After one of the wettest winters on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared Friday that California’s historic drought is officially over for all but a handful of areas in the Central Valley. But after five years of severely dry conditions, California also is pressing forward with a dramatic overhaul of its conservation ethic for farms to cityscapes.
Despite weeks of rain and a growing perception that the California drought is dead or dying, state officials Wednesday largely extended the water regulations that have become the new normal in cities and towns throughout the state.
A healthy snow pack and steady rain have offered a fresh outlook to over five years of drought in California but the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to extend emergency regulations due to water supply problems in areas such as the Central Coast.
The message is oft-repeated that water must be conserved and used as wisely as possible.
The California Water Code calls water use efficiency “the efficient management of water resources for beneficial uses, preventing waste, or accomplishing additional benefits with the same amount of water.”
Much of California has gone from withered to water-logged this winter, but the state’s top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the drought. … Water districts have been lobbying the board to back down.
With storms drenching much of California and snow blanketing the Sierra Nevada, the state’s top water regulators are grappling with how to shift from conservation rules devised during more than five years of drought to a long-term strategy for using water more sustainably.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday released a $177.1 billion spending plan that contains funds for drought, water rights management, continuation of the statewide conservation program Save Our Water and other key water programs.
As much of the state heads into a sixth year of drought, water officials on Wednesday, Jan. 4, cheered Californians’ continued conservation while urging them to stay stingy with water after residential savings slipped below 19 percent in November.
California is working to put into place a framework that will help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a draft report released last week, is the collective effort of five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016.
Despite a wet start to the fall in Northern California, nearly two-thirds of the state remains wracked by extreme drought. In the future, climate change is likely to make dry periods more frequent, more intense and longer.
Urban Californians used about 1.8 percent more water in October compared with a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. It marked the fourth straight month in which conservation has slipped following the state’s decision to relax drought mandates.
California’s water regulators will start using aerial images to measure the green grass and irrigated landscapes of hundreds of communities across the state as part of a new long-term strategy to boost conservation.
California officials crafting a new conservation plan for the state’s dry future drew criticism from environmentalists on Thursday for failing to require more cutbacks of farmers, who use 80 percent of the water consumed by people.
In a series of proposals released Wednesday, state officials said they might require urban water districts seeking to avoid state conservation mandates to prove they have a five-year water supply on hand.
After examining water use data and water agencies’ urban water plans, [Heather] Cooley and her colleagues found that while water use stayed stagnant or declined in some areas, many utilities were projecting increased water use in the future, which shows they’re not allowing for efficiency improvements and so they could be overestimating demand, which could increase costs for rate payers for water they may not use.
For years companies have targeted consumers with advertising that leverages social pressure – like saying seven out of 10 people prefer a certain brand of toothpaste or laundry detergent. More recently, that kind of thinking has been used not just to sell products, but also to change behavior.
On the day it became official that this was the wettest October in Redding in more than 50 years, the state released water conservation numbers for September. … October’s rain boosted water levels at Lake Shasta.
California water agencies that spent more than $350 million in the last two years of drought to pay property owners to rip out water-slurping lawns are now trying to answer whether the nation’s biggest lawn removal experiment was all worth the cost.
The San Juan Water District’s especially steep backslide stood out as part of a statewide trend: With mandatory state restrictions lifted, the overwhelming majority of local suppliers saved less this summer, according to a Times analysis of state water data.
By any measure, California is confronting a complicated new chapter as it enters the sixth year of a drought that has forced it to balance huge demand for a sparse resource — water — from farmers, residents, municipalities and developers.
If you live in an apartment in California, you don’t pay for the water you use – not directly, anyway. … On September 26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 7, a law drafted by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. It requires new apartment buildings constructed after January 1, 2018, to include submeters for every rental unit and to bill of tenants accordingly.
Californians continued to backslide on water conservation during the hottest summer on record, worrying regulators and frustrating environmentalists critical of a new policy enacted this spring that allows most urban water districts to avoid mandatory cuts in water use.
Californians’ water conservation slipped for the third consecutive month in August, prompting new alarm from regulators about whether relaxed water restrictions may be causing residents to revert to old habits as the state enters its sixth year of severe drought.
Californians conserved about a third less water in August than a year earlier, state regulators announced Wednesday, evidence that the decision to ease up on conservation mandates caused some to revert to old habits.
From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,” xeriscape was coined in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.” Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and slow-growing plants to reduce water use.
Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. It optimizes agricultural production, obtained from either surface or groundwater, when the natural quantity and distribution of rain is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined or serve as subcategories of one another.
Statewide water conservation numbers dropped again in July, the second month of the state’s new, relaxed plan to save water during a record drought. Californians used 20 percent less water in July as compared to the same month in 2013, state water officials reported Wednesday.
Locked in a multi-year drought, California’s urban water suppliers have, for the most part, happily enforced rules that prohibit specific wasteful water practices, such as hosing down driveways and over-watering lawns.
Despite previous vows of close monitoring, State Water Resources Control Board leaders said they expect independent researchers – such as environmental groups, journalists and other members of the public – to scrutinize water suppliers’ data that the board posted online Tuesday.
Under fire from water agencies who were losing millions of dollars in lost water sales, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration two months ago dropped all mandatory water conservation targets and allowed cities, water districts and private water companies across the state to set their own targets.
State officials will not force most California water districts to reduce water use this year, even as they caution that the five-year drought persists and note that drought-fueled wildfires continue to wreak havoc.
Californians are continuing to save significant amounts of water despite the decision by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to relax drought rules two months ago. Statewide, urban residents cut water use 21.5 percent in June, compared with the same month in 2013, the year the state has been using as a baseline, according to new data released Tuesday.
In a paper published Monday in Geophysical Research Letters University of Southern California post-doctoral research associate Pouya Vahmani and USC civil and environmental engineering professor George Ban-Weiss analyze what would happen to the city’s overall temperature during the month of July if every lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant plants.
It wasn’t just generous spring rains filling north-state reservoirs that had California’s urban water districts pushing back so hard against mandatory water cuts this year. All those brown lawns and shorter showers have cost them millions in customer revenue.
California has shifted its message on the drought. Now, instead of calling on residents to cut their water consumption collectively by 25 percent, water agencies are saying something akin to this: “Trust us, it’s all under control.”
Each of the five zones in [David] Witting’s irrigation system can be adjusted from an app on his iPhone that connects to the controller in his garage. Through his home WiFi, the controller also pulls satellite and local weather data from the internet. It automatically turns off his sprinklers when it rains.
While mandatory statewide conservation is over, California water officials say conservation remains a “top priority.” “Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in its growing almanac of drought. … News of L.A.’s record low precipitation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board announced a 28% drop in residential water use for May, compared with the same month in 2013.
A year after California attacked the drought with an unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not exactly setting a high bar.
Municipal water agencies across California are required to report to state officials by midnight Wednesday on whether they have enough water to withstand three more years of drought. … Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board are calling it a “stress test.”
Following the wettest winter in five years, water conservation rules for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents are likely to be relaxed in the next few weeks. The staff of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale water provider for the county, is recommending a 20 percent cut in water usage compared with 2013 levels through Jan. 31, down from the current 30 percent.
As debate continues in San Diego County and around the state over how aggressively to conserve water amid a historic drought, a new study finds that reductions in urban water use have saved significant amounts of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
State officials lauded Californians’ continued water savings Monday while issuing a stern warning: State-mandated restrictions will be imposed again on suppliers that fail to take extended conservation needs seriously.
Last month, state water officials eased conservation mandates in response to slightly above-average winter rain and snow in much of California, leading many to speculate that the state’s long-running drought has tapered off. If only.
Before throngs of TV news cameras in April last year, Gov. Jerry Brown stood on a patch of bare Sierra dirt that should have been covered in snow and told Californians they had to be unified in conserving water. … Flash forward to this week.
California on Wednesday suspended its mandatory statewide 25 percent reduction in urban water use, telling local communities to set their own conservation standards after a relatively wet winter and a year of enormous savings in urban water use.
Marking a major shift in California water policy, state regulators Wednesday voted to lift the statewide conservation targets that for the past year have required dramatic cutbacks in irrigation and household water use for the Sacramento region and urban communities across the state.
Strict rules adopted at the height of California’s drought leading many people to let their lawns turn brown may soon end as state regulators Wednesday consider letting local communities decide how to keep their own water use in check.
There is still much more to be learned about how Californians use water, how much they use and how well conservation and efficiency programs are working. That’s where the California Data Collaborative comes in.
The budget also contains significant money to address the historic drought: an increase of $11 million to fund the removal of some of the estimated 29 million trees, many in the Sierra Nevada, that have died over the past two years from drought and bark beetles.
Gene Lee poured a jug of water over his head after a recent surf session at San Onfore State Beach. … The state shut down showers at state beaches last July, shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown issued new rules aimed at cutting water use, statewide, by 25 percent.
Those at the helm of California’s drought response and water policy have decided to make a tactical shift. … A new draft plan from Water Board staff calls for allowing water suppliers to develop their own plans based on each area’s unique conditions.
California water regulators announced new drought rules on Monday that will loosen mandatory conservation targets while making permanent some of the measures that have helped reduce water use during the past year.
Some of the temporary water-saving measures imposed on homeowners and water agencies — including how you wash your car at home and how you water your lawn — are now permanent under an executive order issued Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
With California entering its fifth year of a statewide drought, Gov. Jerry Brown moved on Monday to impose permanent water conservation measures and called on water suppliers to prepare for a future made drier by climate change.
On the same day that Gov. Jerry Brown sought to make water conservation a way of life for Californians by permanently banning some wasteful practices, regulators in Sacramento prepared to significantly ease the current drought restrictions for urban residents and businesses.
California’s historic drought rules are going to be a whole lot looser this summer. In a major shift, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday plans to drop all statewide mandatory water conservation targets it had imposed on urban areas last June.
Gov. Jerry Brown and top water regulators on Monday laid out a revised game plan for dealing with California’s persistent drought, making some conservation rules permanent while also moving to give communities more of a say in deciding how much water they must save.
Just a year ago, California regulators ordered cities and suburbs across the state to make drastic cuts in water use, telling residents the time had come to make longstanding lifestyle and landscaping changes consistent with a state with limited water.
Residents of drought-stricken California doubled their water conservation efforts in March compared with the month before by turning off their sprinklers when the rain fell and changing habits, officials said Tuesday.
With El Niño-fueled storms drowning out reminders that most of California remains in a state of severe drought, a growing number of communities and water associations are demanding an end to emergency water restrictions that were first imposed more than a year ago.
Despite the wettest winter in five years, an overwhelming majority of Californians believe that the state faces an extremely serious water shortage and plan to continue conserving water, according to a poll released Thursday.
This is the time of year when water utilities set their rates, which almost inevitably go up. But this year, the rate hikes are likely to be higher than usual, as water utilities cope with the unexpected impact of mandatory conservation on their budgets.
In a move that even Clovis city officials agree is unlikely to bolster water conservation efforts, the city is changing its water rate structure so that residents using less will pay more. New rates will go into effect July 1 if the City Council approves them Monday night.
Some residents of drought-stricken California who let their lawns turn brown and took shorter showers could soon get some relief, while others may continue to feel the pain. In the coming months, state officials will undertake a monumental task of rewriting conservation orders for a fifth year of drought.
On April 20, the [State Water Resources Control] board will meet with hundreds of cities, water utilities and private water companies in an effort to reduce targets and adjust a new conservation plan that runs through October. On May 5, the board will consider reducing targets due to water availability and hydrology.
Poised to ease California’s mandatory drought rules after rebounding rain and snow levels this winter, state water officials on Monday made it clear that — even where reservoirs are 100 percent full — no community is likely to get an entirely free pass from conservation targets this summer.
Californians cut water use 12 percent in February, concluding a nine-month mandatory conservation initiative that fell just short of the governor’s 25 percent saving goal, according to state data released Monday.
A nearly average spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will likely prolong tough water conservation measures in drought-stricken California — although the restrictions could be loosened in some areas after an El Niño storm system drenched the northern half of the state this winter, officials said.
“California’s front yard” is getting a water-wise makeover. Work crews Wednesday started sheet mulching swaths of lawn outside the state Capitol as the iconic Capitol Park begins transforming its landscape for a more drought-tolerant future.
“And don’t forget the trees,” would be the refrain from State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus at the end of every meeting. Marcus wants Californians to conserve water but not at the expense of yard trees and park specimens that provide shade and reduce energy use.
The rain storms and blizzards that were supposed to come with El Niño were conspicuously non-biblical in California this winter, leaving the state in an ecological limbo that has regulators thinking about easing water-use restrictions in some places but not in others.
With the wettest winter in five years having taken the hard edges off the historic drought and a key Sierra snowpack reading Wednesday expected to show big gains, Californians can look forward to substantial relief from mandatory statewide water restrictions.
One year ago Friday, Frank Gehrke hiked out to Phillips Station and stuck a tube onto a tuft of brownish-green grass. There was no snow, but Gehrke had quite an audience. … On Wednesday, when Gehrke hikes out to the field again, he’ll have something to measure.
Pointing to improved conditions at Folsom Lake, a water district serving one of the region’s wealthiest areas announced Friday that it would not follow conservation targets mandated by the state this year and would instead ask its customers to voluntarily cut water use by 10 percent.
One of the many new technologies discussed Tuesday at a White House Water Summit aims to reclaim water from showers and sinks, clean it and use it for irrigation and flushing toilets, among other non-potable uses in the same home.
Conaway Ranch, a 17,000-acre farm in which the Tsakopoulos family acquired controlling interest in 2010, said Monday it will work with water-use experts from Israel to experiment with drip irrigation on a small portion of its rice fields.
In response to the recently launched Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, state officials have agreed to dramatically ease water conservation goals in San Diego for almost all residential water users. The adjustments will nearly cut in half required water savings throughout the region, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Thursday.
Eight months after California’s governor ordered cities to cut water consumption by a quarter, residents and businesses have exceeded expectations. … Now, the state’s furious conservation drive is not only threatening trees but also resulting in sluggish sewer lines and possible increases in water and tax bills.
Synthetic turf manufacturers say more than 60 studies over the past two decades have shown no elevated health risks associated with their products, but not everyone is convinced. … With legislators asking for more information, the federal government recently announced a multi-agency study and plans to issue a draft report by year’s end.
After a seven-month legal battle, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Friday released the names and addresses of thousands of Los Angeles residents who received cash rebates for replacing their lawns.
As California enters its fifth year of a historic dry period and residents buckle down to reduce urban water use by one-fourth, a novel strategy adopted by the East Bay water utility has turned the spotlight on the region’s most wasteful consumers – among them the rich and famous – and could become the basis for statewide policy.
Following increasing concerns about the safety of recycled tire material used on synthetic turf fields, the Obama administration announced Friday a multiagency federal study to look into potential health risks.
In the strongest indication yet that the California drought could be easing, officials said strict water conservation orders could be dramatically scaled back or even ended if El Niño storms keep pummeling the state into the spring.
Despite record January rainfall, an above-average snowpack and rising reservoirs, the state water board stuck to its conservation guns Tuesday, approving an eight-month extension of the existing drought-related emergency regulations with minor adjustments.
Nine months after California imposed its first-ever mandatory statewide water conservation rules to cope with the state’s historic drought, dozens of leaders of water agencies on Tuesday pleaded with the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown to relax them.
State water regulators voted to extend emergency conservation measures because of a drought, even though an increase in rain and snow this winter has improved California’s snowpack. But with the drought still severe, conservations efforts fell off in December.
Following a welcomed parade of El Niño storms drenching drought-stricken California, state officials on Tuesday will decide whether to extend emergency conservation orders, and reveal how much water Californians saved in December.
Acknowledging the challenges posed by the hot, dry climate endemic to much of inland California, state drought regulators Friday proposed easing the water-conservation rules for Sacramento and other communities where it takes extra water to keep trees from dying.
Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California must release the names and addresses of recipients of millions of dollars in turf replacement rebates.
The proposed changes to California’s emergency drought regulation reward water districts for investing in new local supplies and allow for adjustments to savings goals based on a district’s climate and population growth.
Los Angeles County Superior Court judge could rule as soon as Friday on whether the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California must release information about the recipients of millions of dollars in turf replacement rebates.
The State Water Resources Control Board will soon vote on changes that it says relax – at least somewhat – the 25-percent statewide conservation mandate. But many urban water suppliers say the regulations don’t provide enough relief.
State regulators said Tuesday they are confident that residents of drought-stricken California will meet long-term water conservation goals but worried that the onslaught of storms dousing the state might lead to backsliding.
California residents continue to ease back on the taps, but their efforts are slipping a bit, according to data released Tuesday that show cities and towns missed the state’s 25 percent water savings mandate for the second straight month.
The White House launched an ambitious effort to enlist the private sector in its efforts to reclaim and conserve water Tuesday, saying it’s critical for the country to better manage water supplies that are under increasing pressures from climate change.
A coalition of groups representing cities, counties and water agencies filed a proposed ballot measure Monday that would allow water providers to reestablish so-called tiered pricing as a means of encouraging conservation.
In what looks like a who’s who of local celebrities, the latest list of the East Bay’s biggest water users released Thursday includes San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey; Roy Jacuzzi, inventor of the namesake whirlpool tub; and Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil.
Municipal water agencies from Sacramento and elsewhere pleaded for relief from California’s mandatory drought cutbacks Monday, arguing they should be given credit for coping with arid climates and developing their own supplies.
The State Water Resources Control Board meets Monday on potential changes to mandatory water conservation targets should the drought persist into 2016. … The Regional Water Authority is joining several other water providers from across the state to propose an objective, science-based approach to adjust water conservation targets for climate.
Californians posted a 22 percent savings in water use in October, marking the first month residents have missed the state’s mandatory 25 percent conservation target since enforcement of the cutbacks began in June, officials said Tuesday in Sacramento.
But during an unusually hot October, state regulators say, water savings hit a snag. For the first time, residents and businesses fell short of the statewide target, cutting their water consumption by 22.2% in October compared with the same month in 2013.