California Site Will Let Residents Tattle on Water Wasters

1 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ahead of the game: Most O.C. cities beat water reduction targets.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California residents heeded the call to turn off sprinklers in the first month of mandated water conservation, leading to a 27 percent plunge in June.

Data released by the State Water Resources Control Board shows 265 of the 411 local agencies in the state hit or nearly reached the savings targets implemented after Governor Jerry Brown ordered an overall 25 percent savings. With their minds rightly on conserving water in a drought, they doubled down on policies that limit how much pot can be grown in unincorporated areas of the county and penalize people who ignore those rules.

In the coming weeks, state regulators will review the conservation programs of communities missing their marks and will draft intervention plans for the worst performers. “Our first goal is to sit down and say what’s up. This report shows that residents knew they had to keep conserving even during the summer heat and they kept the sprinklers off more than they would in a normal year.” Ed Casey with Friedman’s Home Improvement hands out a bucket filled with water conservation tools and literature during the Sonoma County Water Agency ‘Drought Drive Up’ event on July 22, 2015 in Sonoma, California. Prior savings have occurred during unusually wet months. ‘‘The June numbers tell a story of conscious conservation, and that’s what we need and are applauding today,’’ said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the water board. ‘‘We need to save as much as possible. That is water essentially in the bank for a future dry year or more.’’ The report issued confirmed figures for June previously released by Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco showing strong water conservation.

The state’s urban users saved 59.4 billion gallons of water, compared with their 2013 use, 15 percent of the total savings the state says it needs by next February. The mandatory 25 percent reductions also appear significantly more effective than last year’s voluntary cuts — users saved six times more water this June than last June. Eino. “Slim.” Rob, the photographer, was nearby filming a black trash bag billowing in the wind on a dam that affects the fate of all of California.

I’m not sure what else we can do,” said Hanford Public Works Director Lou Camara, whose city fell 18 percentage points short of its 28 percent savings goal. Now any activity that’s illegal and relies on water – whether it’s growing marijuana outdoors or building a drainage ditch to illegally divert and collect water – is considered “water waste” and subject to stiffer fines.

Hanford, a Central Valley community of 57,000 people, limits lawn watering to twice a week, as the state recommends, and has issued dozens of penalties for water waste. That goes for existing county and state laws, as well as any new ones the Board of Supervisors decides to enact. “If, because of the continuing drought, the board found it appropriate to prohibit the installation of new turf, for example, the ordinance would consider that water waste as well,” Ted Wolter, chief of staff for Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, told The Bee’s Brenna Lyles. Amy McNulty, water efficiency manager with the Irvine Ranch Water District, said the district has extended its turf-removal rebate program to continue encouraging customers to replace their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping. “As the hot summer months continue here in Orange County, it is more important than ever for customers to reduce outdoor water use by letting their lawns go brown,” she said.

They are empowered to impose fines of up to $10,000 a day on suppliers who don’t comply with the requirements, but say they want to try talking first. Districts that are the heaviest users must cut the most under the plan, which set targets of 8 percent to 36 percent to reach the statewide goal of 25 percent.

Brown’s requirements have noted, those cutbacks largely don’t affect California’s agriculture industry, whose water use is still measured faultily or not at all. Before issuing fines, the board may order communities to conduct an audit of water delivery systems for leaks, place additional limits on watering lawns, or take other measures.

The Coachella Valley Water District, serving wealthy desert communities, imposed drought penalties on water bills in July to dissuade high consumption. State officials will meet with those 16 suppliers next week and devise “enforceable orders” that will require additional conservation actions, said board spokesman George Kostyrko. Meanwhile, California’s separate effort to reduce the number of farmers diverting water from rivers and streams for crops is facing court challenges. Districts that missed their goals by 5 to 15 percentage points will be issued formal notices of violation, requiring that they detail conservation programs and steps they are taking to improve savings.

A Sacramento County judge indicated at a Thursday hearing that she would side with the state’s new approach to warning of insufficient supplies after she ruled that earlier notices violated farmers’ rights. I went down to the water to throw a stick for Murphy, navigating large rocks, then dried mud – empty ketchup packets and clothing tags set in it like fossils – then black, wet mud as sticky as thousands of pieces of bubblegum.

As California pushes through its fourth year of severe drought, golf courses across the state are struggling to keep their fairways and greens watered. If you live in California, chances are very good you’re somehow tied to Lake Oroville: It supplies drinking water to more than 23 million people from Napa to San Diego, protects the Sacramento Valley from floods, irrigates the Central Valley and flushes salt from the delta.

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