New State Water Law Means Preparation Now
Two recent bills make significant adjustments to water use and costs in California. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do.
The two big issues we’ll cover are reduced water usage and increased water rates. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668 went into effect in 2019 but won’t be enforced until 2021, so you have a little time to prepare. But how should you do that?
Restrictions On Water Use
With less water use allowed, many California landscapes designed for higher levels of irrigation will suffer and die. And with higher rates, property owners will need a plan for how to use less anyway.
The new water rules affect both indoor and outdoor water use. Water districts will have to stay within the new water limits, even in droughts. This means city parks and street tree parkways will suffer if adjustments aren’t made ahead of the 2023 enforcement deadline. Agencies will be required to limit their customers’ indoor water use to 55 gallons per person each day to start out, and that amount will go down to 52.5 gallons by 2025 and 50 gallons by 2030. District agencies will also be required to establish specific goals for outdoor water-use as well.
To put this in perspective, a family of four typically uses 60 gallons of water per day indoors. When the grace period ends, everybody will have to limit their water usage.
One city water conservation specialist in California is urging people to start now with the encouraging message of everyone doing our part so we can stay within the new limits.
Large Fines Will Increase Rates
The State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Water Resources are already working to adopt the new efficiency regulations. They will outline requirements for reporting by city water suppliers, and they’ll specify the penalties for violations of the new law.
Local water authorities will need to develop new plans for water-shortages and reporting of water losses. Water suppliers will revise their annual water budgets, too. Failure on the part of such agencies to meet the new requirements means they’ll get fined. The amounts will be up to $1,000 a day during normal weather and up to $10,000 per day if we get another long drought.
These fines will trickle down to the customer. This means we will pay higher rates to help cover such fines.
What You Can Do
The new law does incentivize recycled water usage, which some cities are working to adopt. You’ve seen the signs indicating certain public planted areas are being irrigated this way. There are also incentives for recycled drinking water.
At Eco-Logic, we work with greywater systems design as one of our many techniques for reducing water waste and loss. This is a way homeowners can divert used washing machine water into their landscapes. It requires good design and switching to non-toxic laundry detergent.
Another fantastic way to reduce your water usage is to take advantage of rebates for switching away from high water-use lawns. We help customers either replace their existing grass lawn with perennial plantings or with an ecological lawn. The plantings earn our clients a rebate from their city, while the eco-lawn does not need mowing or watering. Both of these options lower your maintenance bills, too. You can learn more about these two options by clicking below.
Being Proactive About Climate Change
With more drought and wildfire, water is only going to get more and more precious. With a year until the new law will be enforced, you still have time to make a plan. Investing in ecological landscaping now will pay off for years to come, because making the right changes ahead of state water restrictions can save your plants, prevent costly replacement of plants that will not be able to live through the restrictions, lower your maintenance expenses, and keep your property beautiful, which ultimately affects its overall value.