The continuing grip of the drought has resulted in a new executive order imposing mandatory water reductions throughout the state.
On Wednesday, April 1, the Department of Water Resources recorded the lowest snowpack and within hours Gov. Jerry Brown signed the executive order. According to DWR, this “was the first time in 75 years of early-April measurements at the Phillips snow course that no snow was found there.”
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Governor Brown in a press release. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”
Among the mandates was a 25 percent water reduction from the 2013 usage. The lower consumption should be achieved by the end of February 2016. The Gov. specified that “These restrictions should consider the relative per capita water usage of each water suppliers’ service area, and require that those areas with high per capita use achieve proportionally greater reductions than those with low use.”
The DWR will initiate an effort to replace lawns and ornamental turf with drought tolerant landscapes. In underserved areas, DWR will provide funding for the lawn replacement.
The California energy Commission with DWR will implement an appliance rebate program.
The State Water Resources Control Board has been ordered to prohibit the use of potable water for ornamental turf and outside newly constructed homes and commercial buildings, unless they use drip or microspray systems.
"There are many components of the Executive Order that are admirable in an effort to save water and decrease water waste,” State Senator Jeff Stone (R-28) said in a press release Wednesday afternoon. “Further, efforts to streamline permitting processes and investing in new technologies should be commended.”
"However, it should be noted that many people across California have already taken it upon themselves to conserve water,” he added. “Conservation, while important, is not nearly as critical as increasing the amount of water storage in California.”
The Governor expects state water districts, not just to comply with the order, but to enforce it. He “calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.”
In addition, the order mandates Cal Fire to launch a public information campaign to educate the public on actions they can take to help prevent wildfires, including the proper treatment of dead and dying trees.” To carry out this effort, $1.2 million will be transferred to Cal Fire from the Sate Fire Prevention Fund.
Tom Lynch, Idyllwild Water general manager, said later in the day, that he has seen the executive order and shared it with his board.
“I would also like to highlight the State’s action in our newsletter to make sure the public is aware of these conservation mandates. I know that our customer base as a whole has made very good efforts at conservation, and will continue to do so,” he said in an email.
J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected].