Last week California Governor Jerry Brown signed two pieces of legislation that will guide the water future of California residents.
The legislation creates permanent conservation guideline for the use and/or consumption of indoor and outdoor water regardless of changes that may occur in precipitation from year to year.
In a statement released by Brown when the legislation was signed into law, he talked about the importance of using the state’s precious resource wisely in preparation for the next drought and in recognition of the changing climate.
The new legislation requires every urban water provider to decide on target for water use by the year 2022. Beginning in 2027, agencies will be fined for failing to meet those goals. It is important to note that the new targets, which will first need to be approved by the State Department of Water Resources, may vary by city and county.
Initial indoor water limits are established by the new legislation. Initially, indoor water use will be limited to 55 gallons per person per day beginning in 2022. By 2030, the allotment will drop to 50 gallons per person per day.
Living within the new limits will take some adjustments but technology may help ease the transition. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s per capita water use report, showers once used 5 gallons of water per minute. Now, water efficient shower heads use only two gallons of water per minute. Washing machines once required 40 gallons of water per load, however newer washing machines consume only about 25 gallons of water per load. And, where dishwashers could once consumed up to 15 gallons of water per cycles now only uses only about six gallons per cycle.
The Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board are expected to conduct studies and recommend standards for indoor use sometime during the Fourth Quarter, 2021. Although standards for outdoor water use have yet to be determined, they are also expected to vary based on climate variations from region to region in the state.
It may not be as difficult for Californians to eventually live with the proposed water limitations as some might expect. As a frame of reference, Californians used an average of 90 gallons of water per person per day last year for their indoor and outdoor water usage combined.