The headline of the Union Tribune San Diego on Wednesday read “Sweeping Water Cuts Ok’d,” meaning that, “for the first time in the state’s history, [the] board imposes mandatory conservation rules amid drought.” The rest of the article reads…
“HIGHER WATER RATES: The state’s required cuts in water use will result in an estimated loss of more than $500 million in sales by water agencies. The water districts are expected to make that up by raising rates on customers.”
“REDUCTION TARGETS: Water agencies must cut back by 8 percent to 36 percent, with agencies that had the lowest per capita water use facing the smallest percentage reductions and those using the most water having the biggest cuts.”
“PENALTIES: Water districts could be fined $10,000 per day if they don’t meet the mandated targets, but the state is stressing conservation over fines. Gov. Jerry Brown also recently suggested $10,000 fines for the worst water wasters.”
“In a sweeping action that could lead to the browning of lawns and shorter showers across California, state regulators approved mandatory water cuts Tuesday of up to 36 percent for cities and towns in the drought-ridden state. The 5-0 vote by the State Water Resources Control Board follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented order last month that the state reduce its overall water usage by 25 percent. The vote followed a report on meager water savings in March by California’s cities and towns — 3.6 percent statewide compared with two years ago — despite more than a year of dire warnings by Brown and others about the shrinking supply. Along with imposing water cuts, the board prohibited the use of potable water on public street medians. It also banned using drinking water outside newly constructed homes and buildings, unless delivered by drip or microspray irrigation. The package of restrictions is expected to go into effect May 15 and last until February. Officials said the conservation mandates could get tougher next year depending on how long the drought persists. “This is the best we can do in the short run,” said Felicia Marcus, the water board’s chair. “The whole point of this is dealing with an unprecedented emergency.” It’s expected that water districts will increase customer rates to make up for more than $500 million in estimated lost revenue because of reduced water sales. The state left it to the districts to figure out how to conserve. Agencies that don’t meet the state mandates face the prospect of $10,000-per-day fines, though the state panel has emphasized its goal is conservation, not fines. The mandatory cuts range from 8 percent for water districts with the smallest per capita water usage to 36 percent for those with the highest, including in Rancho Santa Fe, Fallbrook, Olivenhain and Valley Center. The city of San Diego’s Water Department faces a 16 percent reduction.”
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