Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CA water conservation regulations, a mild "don't waste" first step

"On Tuesday, amid evidence that existing conservation measures are not working, the State Water Resources Control Board took the unprecedented step of declaring certain types of water waste a criminal infraction similar to a speeding violation. Water use deemed excessive – such as allowing landscape watering to spill into streets, and hosing off sidewalks and driveways – can be subject to fines of $500 per day."  Sacramento Bee, Matt Weiser, 7/15/14, "California adopts $500 criminal penalty for water waste."

  Meantime, the drought is causing havoc
in our farming, ranching agricultural economy
"Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is ... and how bad it could be," Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told the Associated Press before the vote. "There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state."  USA Today/Michael Winter, 7/15/14, "California Okays $500 fines for wasting water". 

"Many Southern California cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Long Beach, already have mandatory restrictions in place. But most communities across the state are still relying on voluntary conservation, and Californians in general have fallen far short of meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s January call for a 20% cut in water use. The emergency rules, expected to take effect Aug. 1, don’t order cities to slash water use by a certain amount. Rather they direct agencies to — at a minimum — ban wasteful practices such as allowing runoff from outdoor sprinklers, hosing down driveways and sidewalks and using drinking water in ornamental fountains that don’t recirculate.Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall, 7/15/14. "California water-wasters could be fined $500 a day under proposal.," includes imbedded video, 1: 35 minutes.

Reference - State of CA drought news. "Water use declines 5 percent statewide", 6/17/14. "Water conservation efforts by a majority of water suppliers in California show that water use has declined statewide by 5 percent through May 2014, according to survey results received by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), read more."  Regulation presentation California Water Boards, 7/15/14, "Emergency regulations to increase urban water conservation: description and context", 17 pages pdf.  Agency survey results of water savings 5/2011-13, vs. 5/14,  page 9.    

Related news - Bloomberg, Elizabeth Campbell and Megan Durisin, 1/28/14, "California farms going thirsty as drought burns $5 billion hole." "The drought in California, the top U.S. agricultural producer at $44.7 billion, is depriving the state of water needed to produce everything from milk, beef and wine to some of the nation’s largest fruit and vegetable crops, including avocados, strawberries and almonds. Lost revenue in 2014 from farming and related businesses such as trucking and processing could reach $5 billion, according to estimates by the 300-member California Farm Water Coalition, an industry group."

Climate Progress, Emily Atkin, 5/23/14,"Long-awaited plan to fight CA epic drought passes Senate.." "As of last week, severe drought officially covered every inch of California, setting up “unprecedented” fire conditions in several areas. The extreme drought and heat have depleted reservoirs and even aquifers, increasing the state’s chance of earthquakes, as a new Nature study found. More than 20,000 residents had fled their homes from fires in Southern California last week."

Note:  photograph from Business Insider/Reuters, Steve Holland,  2/14/14. "Obama pledges help for drought-stricken California."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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