Permanent water restrictions headed to California

The state has approved new permanent restrictions to conserve water.
An aerial view of the path of the proposed tunnels in the Delta on November 1, 2017. Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources

California will implement permanent water restrictions for the first time in history to reduce statewide water use and minimize severe water reductions during droughts.

Retail water suppliers, not individual households or businesses, will be mandated to reduce water use by around 30% over the next 15 years, with non-compliant suppliers facing $10,000 daily fines. The State Water Resources Control Board said only a small portion of the state’s largest water suppliers will face those restrictions, with most fines capped at $1,000 per day.

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The big picture: The policy is called Making Conservation a California Way of Life and was approved by the state Water Resources Control Board. 

  • Suppliers will need to implement measures to encourage customers to reduce water consumption, such as enforcing restrictions or advocating for the use of low-flow appliances.
  • The cuts will not follow a one-size-fits-all approach but will be determined based on various factors like past water consumption, climate, and land use.
  • Different regions will experience varying levels of water use reductions, with some regions like the Bay Area having historically low water use and others like Los Angeles County facing higher projected reductions.
  • The policy, initiated by legislation that was signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is expected to be effective from January 1, 2025, with the first round of cuts slated for 2027. While some water agencies have criticized the policy, environmental groups argue that the water reduction percentages should have been higher.
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