California cities using more water than others will be forced to cut usage at larger rates, according to a preliminary plan outlined Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Under the plan, 135 of the state’s biggest water-using communities–including Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Palos Verdes–will be forced to cut use by 35 percent to comply with Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order to cut statewide use by 25 percent this year, according to the New York Times.
18 other cities, including San Francisco and Santa Cruz, would have to cut water use by 1o percent. Los Angeles would face a 20 percent cut.
The Board will hear comments on the proposal through Monday, and will vote on adopting the plan next month, according to Southern California Public Radio (SCPR).
The Board’s preliminary order came on the heels of the latest statewide monthly water conservation numbers, also released Tuesday, which proved disappointing for California’s water regulators. According to SCPR, statewide water use fell by just 2.8 percent in February compared with February 2013, the baseline year for measurement. The number represents the lowest conservation total since the state began keeping track in July 2014.
Some communities and cities in the South Coast actually increased their water use in February. The region as a whole increased its use by 2 percent, while the city of San Diego increased use by nearly 8 percent.
“Today’s announced February results are very disturbing and provides even more support for the Governor’s call for an immediate 25 percent mandatory reduction in urban water use statewide,” State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus told SCPR.
Also on Tuesday, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District–a wholesaler that supplies water to 26 member agencies, and, ultimately, 19 million Californians–will vote next week on cutting its water supplies by 10 to 20 percent. According to the Times, the district announced it would triple the cost of water for anyone using more than allocated. The district had previously considered a cut of between 5 to 10 percent.
“We had substantial reserves–they are no longer nearly as substantial,” district general manager Jeffery Kightlinger told the Times. “This is why we want to push our conservation measures now. We think with prudent measures and rationing, we can go for another two or three years. After that, we are going to hit a wall.”
The Board’s sliding plan is an extension of water conservation measures it began implementing before Gov. Brown issued a mandatory 25 percent statewide cut. Last month, the Board approved new restrictions on lawn watering, as well as prohibiting restaurants from serving water unless asked.
Also last month, Brown unveiled a $1 billion emergency drought relief package that directs funds to water storage projects, drinking water protections, emergency supplies for desperate communities, and flood control.