REGULATORY RUNDOWN: ARE CA REDUCTION TARGETS FAIR?

It’s no secret California is in one of the worst droughts it has ever faced. Although El Nino seems like a promising relief, we are a long way from replenishing our water supplies. In order to help California through this water shortage, Governor Brown has extend Emergency Regulations supporting mandatory water reductions.

In order to address this extension, the State Water Resources Board held a stakeholder meeting for all California water agencies to comment on the model currently being used to calculate regulation targets. Many agencies have struggled to meet current reduction targets, which take water use from 2013 and compares it to current water use with the goal of reducing between 4-38%. As these water agencies have failed to meet reductions, many have faced notable fines ($61,000 was fined to Beverly Hills last summer) and are fighting back against the methodology to determine these reductions. Feedback has centered on creating a “fair percentage” that includes calculations for factors such as: climate, population growth, and ground water supply credits to name a few.

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In response, the State Water Board’s staff released a recommendation sheet (see table for reference) that outlines these proposed updates and recommendations on whether or not to approve the water agency proposals. This month the board will release draft emergency regulations for public comment before a final vote in early February.

Although the agencies bring up valid points about the methodology, the reality is that some cities are meeting and exceeding reduction targets by installing water conserving technologies, offering rebates to residential and commercial customers, and educating and motivating citizens to take action.  In order to have a sustainable future in California we all need to take action together to meet reduction targets and ditch our excuses.

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