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.
It takes a lot of water to feed the lush lawns that drape in vibrant folds across the Menlo Country Club’s golf course on the edge of Woodside. And, apparently, a crippling drought is seen as no reason to pull back on the spigot.
Regulators are praising the Californians who conserved water in September, but issuing the first fines to four urban water suppliers who waited too late to conserve or failed to enforce conservation standards.
In their zeal to conserve water during the fourth year of a historic drought, many East Bay residents have become water snitches, tattling on neighbors for hosing down driveways, leaving sprinklers on all night and even excessive bathing.
The batch of 1,098 East Bay Municipal Utility District customers who sucked up more than their share during a 60-day billing period this summer was a who’s who of some of the richest people in the Bay Area.
State officials plan to tell Californians what penalties they are taking against communities that fail to meet a mandated 25 percent reduction in water use when they announce usage figures Friday, in the state’s battle against a widespread drought.
Over the last four months, the residents and businesses of the Indian Wells Valley Water District have cut their water consumption by about 25%, and General Manager Don Zdeba thinks that’s “pretty darn good.”
The cash-for-grass program has existed for years in Southern California, but it reached a pinnacle this year, as the drought intensified and local water districts increased the size of the rebates, sometimes to as much as $4 a square foot. … But the costly initiatives are not simply about conservation.
Decades before someone coined the Twitter hashtag #droughtshaming and people began posting YouTube videos of their neighbors’ drowning lawns, California water suppliers encouraged conservation by releasing the names of their biggest water hogs.
Water suppliers take different approaches on what they reveal about guzzlers even though California’s more than 400 water districts are under state orders to reduce use. … East Bay water officials said it’s simple to them: Customers were outed for violating a district policy.
Oakland A’s big cheese Billy Beane, famous for his statistical money-saving approach to assembling a baseball team, has been far less economical with his water, according to an East Bay Municipal Utility District roster that places him among the top water hogs in the East Bay.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District on Thursday released a list of customers who were hit with monetary penalties because they pumped about 1,000 gallons of water per day during the past two months. That’s compared to what the average residential customer uses: about 250 gallons per day.
As California enters a potential fifth year of drought, the swimming pool demolition industry — a niche, to be sure — is thriving, operators say, with new companies entering the business to profit from Californians’ concerns about water scarcity.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agreed Wednesday to study ways to curb excessive water use after the City Council called for a crackdown that could include “severe financial penalties” and “as a last resort, shutting off water.”
Californians sharply cut water use this summer, prompting state officials to credit their new conservation policies and the sting of thousands of warnings and penalties that they had issued to people for overuse. But the most effective enforcers may be closer to home: the domestic water police.
Cities under pressure from California for failing to slash water consumption enough during the prolonged drought are cracking down on residents. That’s prompting an outcry in places such as this Fresno suburb [Clovis], where officials handed out more than $500,000 in fines this summer for violations including lawn watering.
With California mired in the worst drought in state history, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a measure aimed at reducing the billions of gallons of water lost every year across the state from leaks in aging and cracked water pipes in hundreds of city water systems.
Fort Bragg officials will be reconsidering some of the strict emergency water rules they implemented last week following a flurry of objections from restaurateurs, who say ordering them to use only paper plates and plastic utensils is expensive, counterproductive and unfair.
Things are bad everywhere in California, but the big dry has gotten so severe in the coastal city of Fort Bragg that fancy restaurants are now being ordered to plop their filet mignons on disposable plates and pour wine into plastic cups to avoid washing dishes.
Californians cut water use by 27 percent in August, marking the third consecutive month that residents and businesses surpassed the 25 percent conservation goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown to deal with the relentless drought, officials said Thursday.
In the midst of a searing drought, one home in this exclusive West Los Angeles neighborhood used an astonishing 11.8 million gallons of water in one year – enough for 90 households. … It’s the same story throughout urban California. Despite the drought, well-heeled residential customers in affluent neighborhoods are being allowed to use as much water as they want to buy, according to a review of utility records from the state’s biggest urban water agencies.
A state water official said Californians have met a mandate to save water for a third consecutive month during the grinding drought. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday will release statewide conservation figures for August.
Water agencies save some costs when they deliver less water; for example, they need fewer chemicals to treat water and need to buy less water itself. But the majority of other costs are fixed, including running treatment plants, paying off infrastructure and paying workers’ salaries.
Across California this summer, residents have been racking up water conservation numbers that defy expectations — a 27% reduction in June, followed by 31.3% in July. … The conservation performance raises a host of possibilities, and profound questions, for water policy analysts and managers …
With California mired in the fourth year of a drought, Central Basin Municipal Water District officials say their free programs for K-12 schools can serve as another tool to reduce water consumption. The district offers nine programs about water, energy and the need to conserve for teachers to use in their classrooms.
The number of water agencies that met or exceeded their mandate increased to 290 in July, from 265 in June. … Longtime California water watcher Rita Schmidt Sudman [adviser to the Water Education Foundation and former executive director of the Sacramento-based nonprofit] said the response is encouraging.
Jail officials are revamping the environment in and around the Theo Lacy jail, embarking on a conservation effort that ranges from tearing out grass to testing low-flow toilets and upgrading shower valves and testing low-flow toilets.
After Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use statewide, regulators spent much of the spring chastising water districts for not conserving enough during California’s stubborn drought. Data released Thursday suggest the message is getting through.
Californians answered the call for conservation in July, slashing water use by 31.3 percent and exceeding state targets for the second straight month that communities face potential fines for falling short.
They [Californians] are saving billions of gallons of water every day. The extent of this commitment was evident Thursday as the state released new figures showing that urban water use statewide dropped by 31 percent in July compared with 2013.
The San Joaquin Valley now battles California’s epic drought in cities as much as its nation-leading farm fields. From Bakersfield to Modesto, people struggle to meet some of the highest state-ordered cutbacks anywhere in California.
Well now that most of our lawns are brown, many folks are pining the loss of their lush, green landscapes and looking for a potential quick fix. There’s lot of talk about installing fake grass or painting or dying the lawn green, but what are the ramifications?
As the water police pick low-hanging fruit by curbing homeowners’ outdoor watering, cities and state agencies are now targeting renters and condominium owners who account for nearly 50 percent of the state’s population but are less likely to save water because they don’t pay their own water bills and therefore have no incentives to conserve.
California officials launched two initiatives Wednesday to boost residential water conservation: The nation’s toughest water efficiency standards for showerheads and a $30 million rebate program to rip out grass lawns and replace old toilets.
Heeding the call to conserve water, tens of thousands of Southern California residents and businesses replaced their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping with the help of $340 million in grants from the Metropolitan Water District.
Despite record heat, drought-conscious Californians managed to slash urban water use by 27% in June and demonstrated once again that they were on track to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic 25% conservation order, state water officials said Thursday.
Despite the hottest June on record, Californians cut back on their water use statewide by by 27.3 percent statewide compared with June 2013, a reduction that exceeded the level ordered in the governor’s emergency drought regulations.
Drought-ravaged Californians and the water agencies that serve them cut water use 27.3 percent in June — the second time that communities statewide met the governor’s 25 percent goal, but the first time they did so under the threat of fines.
Saying it might cause more harm than good, East Bay water officials Tuesday rejected the idea of giving homeowners a break for ripping up live grass and replacing it with plastic turf — drought or no drought.
When it came down to it, the number crunchers at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California knew they saved a lot more water for every dollar spent subsidizing low-flush toilets than drought-friendly lawns.
Almost half of the city [of Sacramento] utility’s nearly 126,000 residential connections don’t have meters tracking and tallying how much they use. Because of this, there’s no way of precisely knowing how much water goes missing because of leaky pipes, loose connections, theft or at city hydrants.
In a setback to California water regulators’ conservation efforts, the state Supreme Court has kept intact a ruling that makes it harder for municipalities to impose tiered pricing to discourage heavy water use.
When it comes to watching water use as California’s four-year drought drags into midsummer, water districts statewide are turning to software apps that show both customers and utilities gallon-by-gallon details unavailable a few years ago.
A 2-inch-long brass cylinder, the modest-looking plumbing device is to water wasters what handcuffs are to shoplifters and parking boots are to motorists piling up unpaid tickets. And now water agencies struggling to meet California’s tough new conservation rules have the devices at the ready and are giving them a fresh look.
The California Water Commission is scheduled to consider new rules Wednesday that would significantly slash the amount of water that can be used by landscapes surrounding newly built houses, businesses and schools.
By now, most customers of a water district know the new conservation rules. … However, what about people who live in more rural areas and in smaller water districts that have different water conservation rules?
When Gov. Jerry Brown called on drought-weary Californians to reconsider their love of thirsty, nonnative landscaping, some businesses and homeowners responded by tearing out their once-cherished lawns.
California water regulators heard proposals for a statewide drought fee and hefty fines for water-guzzling homeowners as part of a Wednesday workshop discussing how to implement Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for water pricing to maximize conservation.
Starting Wednesday, outdoor showers at all state beaches are shut off as a way to conserve water during the drought, California State Parks officials announced this week. The move is designed to save up to 18 million gallons of water annually.
Soquel Creek Water District leaders are looking at purchasing a new piece of water main-flushing technology as one of several potential water-saving projects that they could fund through fees paid by new district development permits.
Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess – a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation in drought-stricken California is turning things around, proving it’s possible to get people to change their ways.
Californians in May shot past Gov. Jerry Brown’s water conservation targets in response to the drought emergency — a profound shift in behavior for a state that until recently prized its hot tubs, lush landscaping and spotless cars.
California residents cut their water use by nearly 29 percent in May compared with the same month in 2013, the steepest reduction since officials began calling for people to conserve last year, according to figures the state released Wednesday.
Water use in drought-stricken California plunged by record levels in May, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration cited that as proof cities can hit steep summer conservation targets they have blasted as unfair.
In a rare bit of encouraging news in a state gripped by drought, regulators reported Wednesday that urban Californians reduced their water consumption by 28.9 percent in May from the same month two years ago.
The new state rules for water conservation kicked in June 1, requiring residential customers in Chico to use 32 percent less water than they used during the same months in 2013. Oroville customers have to use 28 percent less.
City water officials are getting personal with their efforts to boost conservation. … The [Los Angeles Department of Water and Power] letters urging homeowners to improve their water-wasting habits went to about 4,600 homes, largely in upscale neighborhoods with big lots and lush lawns.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board is the latest to balk at subsidizing synthetic turf after hearing complaints that it has undesirable environmental effects even if it does well in reducing outdoor water use.
Valley cities — from the biggest to the smallest — have no excuse for not having water meters by now. Water is no different than gasoline or electricity: Consumers should pay for precisely what they use, especially during this historic drought.
Whether it’s East Palo Alto and Hillsborough, Beverly Hills and Compton, or Richmond and Orinda, a huge disparity in residential water use is posing a challenge for water agencies as they try to curb consumption and write rules that treat all customers fairly. The divide is the focus of the latest installment in this newspaper’s series “A State of Drought.”
With water monitors like [Don] Wells on the prowl, Fresno is taking a more aggressive tack than most cities in California’s battle against the severe drought. In one month, Wells and his water conservation team handed out 347 of the 838 penalties issued by all the water districts statewide.
Thousands of homes, businesses and apartments in the drought-stricken central San Joaquin Valley lack water meters, complicating efforts by city officials to reduce consumption as mandated by the state. … By state law, all urban water hookups in California must be metered by 2025, and the drought is prompting some communities to speed up their programs.
Santa Barbara, known for its landscapes fed by coastal fog, has always had a cautious relationship with water. And its history of conservation may hold lessons for other upscale communities such as Beverly Hills and Rancho Santa Fe being forced to slash their hefty water consumption because of the drought.
A state agency representing consumers said Tuesday that it will try to overturn strict water conservation rules that took effect this week for 1 million residents of San Jose and neighboring Silicon Valley communities, on the grounds that they violate state law by imposing penalties on homeowners but not businesses or apartment owners.
[Gov. Jerry] Brown has always had the capacity to be fascinating and maddening in the same instant, and he was both during an hour of questioning at USC by Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner. The governor offered little in the way of advice for Californians wondering how, exactly, to trim a quarter of their water usage, the level necessary statewide to satisfy his plan.
[Tony] Corcoran alone estimates he’s put more than 100 videos of water-wasters, complete with their addresses, up on YouTube. Others tweet out addresses and photos of water scofflaws on Twitter, using hashtags such as (hash)DroughtShaming.
With water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir and a bellwether for water supplies in the Southwest, setting a new record low every day, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are finalizing a pair of novel water conservation agreements that will keep more water in the shrinking lake.
The city of Lincoln, Sacramento Suburban Water District and Georgetown Divide Public Utility District have been told they have to reduce water consumption by 32 percent over the next nine months compared to 2013.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday said he won’t back down on his threat to fine cities, water districts and private water companies $10,000 a day if they fail to meet strict water conservation targets during California’s relentless drought.
In a story June 2 about the California drought, The Associated Press, relying on figures from the State Water Resources Control Board, reported erroneously that the city of Escondido performed worst in the state on water conservation in April 2015, with a 20 percent increase in use from April 2013.
For the first time, Californians are more concerned about the state’s dogged drought than they are about jobs and the economy, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.
Most Californians don’t believe others in their region of the state are doing enough to respond to the four-year drought, with the harshest criticism being dished out in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
A survey released Wednesday found state residents for the first time put the water shortage ahead of jobs, housing and state finances as California’s most pressing issue, with a large majority thinking that they and their neighbors should be doing more to address the problem.
After lagging during the first part of the year, water conservation in California improved significantly in April following Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic order requiring big cuts in water use amid the worsening drought.
California on Monday officially began its unprecedented effort to conserve water in the midst of a fourth year of severe drought, marching out orders for communities statewide to make reductions of up to 36 percent.
To conserve during the statewide drought, the letter said, Antelope Valley water customers would have to collectively reduce consumption 32%. But Chadd’s family of seven would be required to cut consumption 70% or potentially see their bill triple.
And lawn, whether real or synthetic, is not the only surface safe for play. As homeowners turn away from water-guzzling, time-sucking lawns, they’re looking at other grounds materials, from decomposed granite and bark to shredded tires.
More than 350 people turned out, and nearly all in opposition, to voice their concerns at the only public hearing on strict new water conservation rules that will affect 1 million people across Silicon Valley starting June 15.
Thirty-seven public officials who set the region’s water policy have collectively cut back 11 percent on their home use so far this year, falling short of the 20 percent reduction sought by state officials amid a historic drought.