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The California Drought

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The following is a timeline of events regarding the declaration of a drought in California, the role of local water agencies, and responsibilities of residents and businesses.

January 17, 2014—Governor Brown announced a statewide drought emergency and asked all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent.

April 25, 2014—Governor Brown announced a continued state of emergency existing throughout California due to ongoing drought conditions.

April 1, 2015Following persistent drought conditions, Governor Brown extended the drought emergency and directed the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to impose mandatory restrictions to achieve a statewide 25 percent reduction in potable urban water usage through February 28, 2016.

How the Announcement Affects You

May 5, 2015In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order, the State Water Board adopted a resolution for mandatory restrictions on water consumption. The emergency regulation identifies how much water each community must conserve based on their average residential and commercial water use, per person per day, in the summer of 2013.

June 1, 2015The State Water Board’s mandatory restrictions will take effect on this date. Every person needs to keep indoor water use to no more than 55 gallons per day.

To reduce water use by 25 percent statewide, the State Water Board adopted a policy that places each local water agency into one of eight tiers. Each tier is assigned a conservation standard ranging from 4 to 36 percent.

Each month the State Water Board will compare every agency’s water use with what they used in the same month in 2013, to determine if they’re on track to meet their conservation standard. Local water agencies will determine the most cost effective and locally appropriate rules to achieve their standard. For example, one water district may implement a rule prohibiting outside watering, while another district may ban washing your car.

The list of local water districts and their assigned conservation tiers can be viewed here.

Ways You Can Conserve Water

The restrictions will require all Californians to use the utmost vigilance to conserve our scarce water resources. Failure to conserve will exacerbate our risk of wildfires, drinking water shortages, diminished agricultural production, and degraded habitats for wildlife.

The Association of California Water Agencies has provided the following helpful conservation tips.

Indoors

  1. Use washing machines for full loads only.
  2. Run the dishwasher only when full.
  3. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with ‘wash water’ and the other with ‘rinse water.’
  4. Install an aerator on your kitchen faucet to reduce flow to less than 1 gallon per minute.
  5. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Alternatively, you can save gallons of water by composting vegetable food waste.
  6. Install low-flow shower heads.
  7. Take a five minute shower instead of a 10 minute one.
  8. Turn your bathroom faucet off when brushing your teeth or shaving.

Outdoors

  1. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.
  2. Landscape your yard with climate appropriate plants.
  3. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios.

The small steps we take at home add up and can make a huge difference for our state.

Avoid Being Fined for Overuse

Many constituents have inquired about penalties. Local water districts can fine property owners up to $500 a day for failure to implement the water use prohibitions and restrictions established by them.

The State Water Board can issue warnings, conservation orders, or cease and desist orders to local water agencies if they fail to meet the conservation standard. Local water agencies that violate cease and desist orders are subject to a civil liability of up to $10,000 a day from the State Water Board.

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