Regulators may delay rules to reduce water for lawns

State regulators are considering pushing back the rules until 2040.

California regulators have proposed delaying new rules aimed at reducing water usage on lawns. 

Last year, California proposed new rules to reduce statewide water use by around 14 percent. That included lowering outdoor water use standards by 2035. 


The big picture: The proposal now suggests delaying this timeline by five years, until 2040.

  • Instead of punishing individuals for excessive water use, the state would punish the water agency that supplies those homes.
  • Water agencies are estimated to spend about $13.5 billion to comply with these rules, although the actual cost might be higher.
  • The delay may result in water agencies investing in more expensive options like desalination plants or water recycling, rather than focusing on conservation.

Go deeper: The goal of the proposed outdoor water standards for 2040 is to have low-water plants irrigated by a drip system instead of sprinklers.

  • Each water agency would have a “water use objective” to meet, considering both indoor use and leaky pipes.
  • Despite the delay, urban water use in California is already declining, and state regulators predict a 7.5% decrease in water use by 2035 compared to 2017-2019 levels.
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