May 6 2015

CA Water Board Approves Tough Conservation Targets

– Protests from across California did not sway the Water Board –

Meeting on Tuesday, May 5, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) criticized the lack of urban water conservation in March 2015; the reduction compared with March 2013 was only 3.6%. The economic analysis, commissioned by the Water Board, estimated water agencies would lose $500 million in 2015 if all the state targets are met.

Local water officials protested that the board’s proposed regulations were “draconian, and in some cases unattainable”. Some communities have long reduced water consumption to the minimum and feel further reduction is unfair. “Still others warned of increased fire risk or asked the board to exempt certain public buildings such as jails.” according to the Sacramento Bee.

Nine tiers of water agencies were approved by the Water Board on Tuesday, with targeted reductions of 8% to 36%. For example, the Vaughn Water Company serves a population of more than 30,000 residents who used a daily average of 507 gallons per person in July, August and September, 2014. Their target is a reduction of 36% to 325 gallons per person per day.  San Diego residents used a daily average of 82 gallons per person over the months of July, August and September, 2014. Their target is a reduction of 16% to 69 gallons per person per day.  Arcata residents used a daily average of 43.5 gallons per person over the months of July, August and September, 2014. Their target is a reduction of 8% to 40 gallons per person per day.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) residents used a daily average of 94 gallons per person over the months of July, August and September, 2014.  The assigned target is a reduction of 16% to 79 gallons per person per day.  However, EBMUD announced a stricter goal of 35 gallons indoors per person per day on April 14, 2015. (See PCA report)

The Water Board will modify targets wherever food processing plants are threatened with shutdown if water use is reduced.

The Water Board was ordered by Governor Jerry Brown to impose restrictions to achieve a statewide 25% reduction in potable urban water usage through February 28, 2016. Initially, the Water Board proposed a requirement of 25% water use reduction on all urban and suburban customers.

On Saturday, April 18, the State Water Resources Control Board lowered its demands for several areas of California and raised others above 25%  The proposed water consumption reduction requirement for Arcadia and Beverly Hills was revised up to 36%. The district Piedmont is in was lowered to 16%, thanks to its high level of conservation since 2013.  The Board rejected calls to create easier targets for communities that have been conserving since before the drought.

More than 250 protests of the proposed conservation levels and the use of 2013 as a baseline have been received by the Water Board as of April 17. (See PCA report) Piedmont, in particular, suffers from the use of  2013 as the baseline, since Piedmonters have been cutting their water consumption for a decade or more. While some urban and suburban residents have been ordered to reduce daily per person consumption to 79 gallons, other communities’ residents are allowed to use over 300 gallons daily under the new Water Board requirements. The Board preferred not to impose an equal per person daily gallon limit on all urban and suburban residents in California.

If a city or water district falls short of its target, the Water Board threaten stiff unspecified fines. Governor Brown proposes up to $10,000 a day beginning later this summer for the most wasteful districts.

Read the Sacramento Bee report

See new Water Board conservation targets

2 Responses to “CA Water Board Approves Tough Conservation Targets”

  1. These targets are pretty squishy and it is a misnomer to call them “residential”. The unit of measure for water reduction is RESIDENTIAL Gallons per Capita per Day (RGPCD) but from the best I can tell these urban use reduction targets inproporate commercial, governmental and residential use into one RGPCD for EBMUD. There may be good reasons for doing that but it overstates the true residential use by some residents. For example:

    SWRCB April 15 EBMUD urban water use: 94 RGPCD, 16% reduction target

    SWRCB April 7 EBMUD urban water use: 84 RGPCD, 20% reduction target

    SWRCB May 5 average EBMUD residential water use (other sectors excluded): 65 RGPCD

    The third calculation by SWRCB shows that average residential use by all EBMUD customers (1.3M) is 65 RGPCD, well below the “urban” use number being used as a baseline. But Piedmonters should not assume that they need not reduce wate use. There is no average RGPCD for Piedmont and the EBMUD average was over 100 less than 2 years ago. How much Piedmonters have reduced water use by 2013 is anybody’s guess. The best thing do to is look at Gal/Day number on your EBMUD bill and divide it by the number of people in the house. If that number is over 65, you should definately reduce your water usage by 20% or more. If less than 65, do the best you can. Keating water use for the last billing period was 43 RGPCD. And remember, EBMUD recommends users get to 35 RGPCD.

  2. What is target for daily water use per person? water use for Our household averages between 25 and 30 gallons per person Per day. Iam already doing my part to conserve water. Am I expected to reduce my water use even more? Will I be dinged if I do not cut back my current usage? If anything I feel the 3 people in our family are doing the best we can to conserve water!

    W. A. Woosey

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