California drought: Governor calls for continued water conservation

California drought: Governor calls for continued water conservation

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Monday that makes permanent some water conservation measures imposed in response to the devastating drought in the state. The move comes as California reels under a drought for the fifth consecutive year.

“Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” Brown said. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”

Brown’s order will permanently ban practices such as hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces; using hoses without shut-off nozzles to wash cars; allowing runoff to occur when watering lawns; and failing to re-circulate fountain water.

Urban water suppliers like the Department of Water and Power will also need to provide monthly reports about water use, conservation and enforcement.

The order also instructs the State Water Resources Control Board to tweak water conservation rules by January and create emergency restrictions for the next year.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said the executive order is “completely consistent with conservation objectives for Southern California.”

He added that the water agency, which provides water to 26 cities and agencies in Southern California, supports Brown’s effort to make “conservation a way of life for California each and every year.”

“While this relatively normal rain season in Northern California is a welcome change from last year’s historically low snowpack, Southern California remains in drought conditions,” Kightlinger said.

The state Water Resources Control Board, which still needs to implement Brown’s order, released proposed revisions to its emergency water restrictions today that would allow local agencies to set their conservation goals according to how well they are able to meet demand over three years of water shortages. If agencies are able to meet water demands, they may not face mandated water- use cuts.

The State Water Resources Control Board will consider the revisions on May 18.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he agrees with Brown’s order, noting that El Nino weather “made only a small difference in our water supplies.”

The city is close to meeting its goal of reducing water use by 20 percent by 2017, and will “keep pushing to reach and surpass” each of the city’s water goals, he said.

Since water-conservation mandates were imposed by Brown in June 2015, DWP customers have cut their use by a cumulative 15.8 percent compared to the same period beginning in June 2013 — the baseline year used by the state to measure savings. The state-imposed conservation mandate for the DWP is 14 percent.

Across California, residents have cut their use by 23.9 percent since June 2015 — just below Brown’s call for a 25 percent reduction.