Finally, water conservation will no longer be something we talk about only when it doesn’t rain.
In his most recent Executive Order (click here), Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., signed a directive to the Department of Water Resources (The Department), the State Water Resources Control Board (The Board), and the Public Utility Commission (PUC). This latest directive has come on the heels of multiple drought proclamations (a joke) by many a California State Governor, where temporary measures have been put in place, and often times too late to do any good. Granted, Californians have learned to conserve this precious resource over the years, but unlike many of our other natural resources, like our forests, our air and our beautiful beaches, little respect is given to our water.
Executive Order B-37-16 permanently extends all prior orders. This means things like watering lawns by way of sprinklers in new home subdivisions are prohibited. Like, when have you seen that recently, right? For the specific text of Executive Order B-29-15, signed April 1, 2015, click here.
Here’s a breakdown of the 13 items in the latest executive order titled, “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life”, and what it means to you.
- The Board shall extend the existing emergency water conservation regulations to be in affect through the end of January 2017, and begin to establish permanent water conservation regulations.
- The Department shall work with The Board to set stricter water conservation standards. Expect the following:
- Forget the 1.6gpf toilets. These will be replaced with the highly technologically advanced 1.28gpf water closets, and you’ll be seeing more rebates for these, as well. (click here for a listing of municipalities currently offering REBATES) Toilets will be connected in a manner to receive rainwater, and all showers in new homes will be plumbed with a three-way valve for grey-water irrigation. Clothes and Dishwashers will be smarter.
- Forget sprinklers and vast lawns. Irrigation systems will be smart and programmed to listen to the weather report and connected to satellite data. This has been around for years, but it will soon be standard. Turf replacement rebates will continue, and front yard Food Gardens will be more acceptable, especially where HOA’s once banned non-traditional landscaping.
- Commercial waste-water recycling will be more economical as the same technology that currently is implemented in new construction will find it’s way into the existing built environment. Outdoor spaces will accommodate edible gardens and restaurants will take advantage of this trend, not only to save water, but to attract customers who are now growing up with a water conservation mentality, and locally grown fruits and veggies.
- Leaking water pipes will be replaced… more jobs!
- Water suppliers must issue monthly reports on how much water is used, what kind of conservation efforts are being implemented and what they are doing to enforce the regulations. Look for additional water conservation rebates, and water-waster watch dogs.
- Speaking of water-wasters, the following practices will be permanently outlawed, and not just during a proclaimed drought.
- Hosing off driveways and other hardscapes with drinking water
- Washing automobiles without an attached shut-off nozzle
- Installing fountains and water features with non-recirculating pumps
- Watering lawns within 48 hours of a rain event, and allowing water to run-off your property
- Irrigating ornamental grasses in street medians (municipality’s responsibility)
- The Board and The Department will figure out a plan to get our leaky infrastructure fixed. Funds collected by high water users, and money set aside for water quality improvements will be spent on upgrading our antiquated infrastructure. Water saved through repairing leaking underground pipes are now considered a health concern, when some areas are actually without reliable potable water due to groundwater depletion. Rainwater collecting measures will be mandated for this very reason; to recharge our groundwater, and reduce stormwater runoff.
- The Board and The Department are tasked with expediting the data collecting and water system management plans that urban and agricultural water suppliers were directed to do last year in prior executive orders. The PUC is to order investor-owned water utilities to get with the program, and fix their leaks.
- Here’s an interesting item for all you entrepreneurs and inventors. The California Energy Commission has been assigned to certify innovative technologies that conserve water through loss detection and increase energy efficiency.
- The Department needs to develop stricter requirements to water agency’s Water Shortage Contingency Plans in order to serve the public better during these extended periods of drought.
- The Department, in developing these stricter requirements, must consult with the public (including local governments and environmental groups) in determining the best approaches in handling resources during severe drought conditions. The draft must be ready to release to the public by January 10, 2017. Here’s a chance to get involved with the writing of the state’s water policy.
- Those areas not included in the purview of a required Water Shortage Contingency Plan, The Department will work with you in developing one, like it or not.
- The Department will work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to update the Agricultural Water Management Plan. Water conservation is the key here, but maintaining the production of a healthy agricultural economy becomes a delicate balancing act.
- The Department will now require an Agricultural Water Management Plan for water suppliers with over 10,000 acres. This requirement used to be set for suppliers serving over 25,000 acres.
- The Department and CDFA, in developing the required update to the AWMP, must again consult with the public (including local governments and environmental groups). This draft must also be ready to release to the public by January 10, 2017.
Overall, this appears to be a good start to implementing measures that will get us all talking about water conservation in everything we do, and become second nature to our children and our grandchildren. Once again, another step toward creating a Lifestyle in Sustainability.
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