Breakdown: How Jerry Brown’s New Water Rules Affect California

On Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order introducing new mandatory water restrictions in an effort to cut statewide water use by 25 percent.

Brown’s ambitious plan will affect businesses, residences, and the state’s agriculture industry in different ways:

  • Brown’s executive order directs the State Resources Control Board to oversee a 25 percent reduction in water use for California’s 400 local water agencies. According to The New York Times, the 25 percent decrease will be marked in relation to 2013’s water usage numbers. The agencies will be tasked both with finding a way to implement cuts and ensuring customers are complying with the new rules.
  • Houses, developers, college campuses, golf courses, cemeteries, and government buildings will all be affected by the 25 percent water cutback.
  • Unaffected, for now, are the state’s largest farms, which do not have to comply with the 25 percent cut. Instead, the new order requires agricultural workers to share water use data with state regulators and maintain a drought control plan that proves they are conserving water wherever possible.
  • Local water agencies will implement “tiered” pricing plans. These plans will charge those who use large amounts of water more than those who use little. Overall, water rates for consumers are expected to rise.
  • Local water agencies will likely order reductions in the amount of water delivered to customers. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Metropolitan Water District is already considering a 5 to 10 percent reduction in water delivery to its 23 Southern California member agencies.
  • The State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to implement heavy fines on water users who exceed their limits.
  • The state will create a temporary rebate program that allows owners of water-intensive appliances like dishwashers and washing machines to exchange them for less energy and water-intensive versions.
  • The state, in coordination with local governments, will replace 50 million square feet of grass statewide with drought-resistant alternatives. Only non-potable water may be used on grass along street median dividers.
  • Developers must install more efficient drip irrigation or micro-spray systems in all new developments built after the rules take effect, if they want to use drinkable water for irrigation purposes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the state water board will draft regulations based on the order by the middle of this month. It hopes to adopt the new regulations by May.


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