California Water Suppliers Take Steps to Meet Conservation Standards

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Sprinkler-WebFrom restrictions on yard irrigation to public awareness campaigns, California’s water suppliers are using a variety of approaches to meet mandatory water cutbacks resulting from the drought. Here are some notable examples:

The San Jose Water Company recently announced new rules for its million residential customers giving them a monthly water allotment — 13 units per month per home from June to August — with surcharges of up to $7 a unit for exceeding the allotment.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has restricted customers to irrigating their yards a maximum of three days a week and, if conditions do not approve, could further limit irrigation days to once a week. County supervisors have also approved a plan that will focus on some of the heavier water users by adding a penalty charge, which can increase water bills by at least 150 percent.

San Diego has taken an incentive approach and is offering residential rebates and other free programs to encourage water conservation. For example, residents can request a free water survey, where a water conservation representative tours a homeowner’s property to identify leaks and potential water-saving opportunities. San Diego also offers rebates for rain barrels, replacing lawns with water-wise plants, and converting spray sprinklers to micro-irrigation systems.

Orange County officials teamed up with transportation and water district leaders to launch a multi-agency water conservation campaign with the message “Every Drop Counts.” Recognizing the opportunity to involve non-English speaking residents, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has taken its campaign even further by debuting multilingual ads in Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.

In Santa Cruz and Sacramento, residents have the option of signing up for Water School in exchange for removing a penalty incurred from exceeding the monthly water allotment. Water School is a free, one-time class in which residents learn how to manage their water use, read a water meter, and find and fix leaks.

Other counties and water districts, like Eastern Municipal Water District and Placer County, have turned to mobile phone applications to encourage water conservation. Placer County, for example, has launched a shower timer app, which converts time in the shower to gallons of water used. Additionally, both Placer County and EMWD have developed a Water Waste app, which encourages water conservation by allowing users to report water wasters. Residents can send pictures of any potential water wasting situations to their respective water districts so that conservation staff may follow up and fix the problem.

With California in its fourth year of the most severe drought on record, municipalities and public water providers are implementing extraordinary measures to reduce residential water use and comply with the State’s emergency water conservation requirements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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