California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the first ever statewide mandatory water reduction regime on Wednesday in response to California’s driest year on record and record low snowpack in March. The State Water Resources Control Board will implement measures in every California municipality to cut water use by 25 percent, which means water suppliers will have to report water usage and encourage Californians to reduce their use.
Water suppliers are required under the order to adjust pricing to encourage Californians to use less and discourage waste. Enforcement agencies will more vigorously penalize those who divert water illegally or otherwise waste water, which will mostly affect large-scale agricultural users, but any water abuser can be fined up to $500 per day, regardless of the size of their home or business. Home builders will be affected by new standards on faucets, toilets and outdoor landscaping.
Gov. Brown already ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to ban lawn watering within two days of rain and prohibited water to be served at restaurants unless a customer specifically requested it, according to Reuters.
Californians can help conservation in a number of ways, big and small: For example, by washing dishes in wash-and-rinse basins instead of under running water, or by composting instead of using a garbage disposal. The state’s Save Our Water campaign provides an interactive Ways To Save graphic for tips on saving water. Some are no-brainers, like taking shorter showers and doing only full loads of laundry. Five fewer minutes in the shower can save 25 gallons of water with a standard 5-gallon-per-minute showerhead.
If you have a garden, it's better to water early in the morning and later in the day, when the temperature outside is lower. Try planting some drought-tolerant plants as well, like these, or try these outdoor saving tips from Californians across the state.
If you’re in the mood to shame or praise your city or your neighbors, check out California’s top “water guzzlers” and “water misers” via SFGate. Top water users from July to January of last year include the Redlands in San Bernadino, the Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company and Colton in San Bernadino. Redlands used the most gallonage by far, upwards of 240 gallons per day per person. Dublin, in Contra Costa, reduced their water usage over that period by 28.5 percent in 2014 compared to 2013 to just 70 gallons per person per day. The city of Santa Cruz used only 45 gallons per day per person, a 22.87 percent reduction between 2013 and 2014.
Along with water reduction requirements, Gov. Brown’s executive order includes initiatives to replace 50 million square feet of lawns with “drought tolerant landcapes,” and a rebate program to encourage homeowners, businesses and landlords to replace old, inefficient appliances with water and energy-saving appliances.