Opinion: One Size Doesn’t Fit All for Drought Response, But All Californians Must Help

Lawn sprinklers
Sprinklers watering a Southern California lawn. Courtesy Metropolitan Water District

All Californians play a role in conserving and strengthening our water supplies for a drought-resilient future. California is once again in a familiar drought situation, although not all communities are equally affected.

Some areas face extreme water shortages. others are not. We have to deal with these differences. That starts with all Californians understanding where their water comes from and what they can do to use it wisely.

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The California Urban Water Agencies, an association of 11 of California’s largest municipal water suppliers, know what it takes to preserve this precious resource. Water provided by member agencies supports two-thirds of California’s population, contributing to the state’s $3 trillion economy and helping our communities thrive.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order of March 28 and afterwards emergency setting which was adopted by the State Water Resources Control Boardrecognize lessons and progress since the last drought in 2015, when then-Governor Jerry Brown ordered the state’s first 25% retention mandate. The state water board’s new rule calls for local actions to save water, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

To jumpstart these efforts, the state budget includes significant investments for short-term drought response and water conservation, on top of the governor’s existing commitment to invest $5.2 billion over three years in drought planning and water conservation initiatives. climate resilience.

Water utilities are now required to prepare and submit a detailed plan of actions they will take during a period of water shortage. Newsom’s approach leverages these tools, forcing water suppliers to activate their plans and implement locally appropriate measures — which our 11 member agencies have done. The success of these measures, however, depends on water users doing their part.

Conservation is vital to any organization’s drought plan. All Californians should use water wisely, and many already do. Customers in our agencies’ service areas have reduced their water use by an average of 40% per person since 1990, and by as much as 50% in some areas. Many “super savers” have replaced their lawns with drought-friendly landscaping, for example, or traded out old appliances for more efficient ones.

But collectively, we must do more.

That’s why our companies provide water-saving tools and resources for residents and businesses, including discounts on landscape renovations and water-saving accessories, free water-saving devices, and free water labs and testing. Many agencies have recently extended these discounts and programs and rely on customers to take the next step. If you haven’t yet explored these options to reduce your water use, now is the time.

The other half of the equation is strengthening our supplies — for today’s drought and for the future. Our 11 organizations and their contributors have invested in diverse, drought-resilient local supplies, such as water reuse, storage and desalination, both locally and through regional partnerships.

Long-term drought resilience requires further investment and public support for water supply reliability projects, particularly as we adapt to a changing climate. State and federal funding for water infrastructure helps keep water prices low for local ratepayers and ensures that water is affordable and accessible for all.

Now we look to you, our communities, to rise to the occasion. Success should not be judged solely by our ability to achieve a certain percentage reduction in water use. It should be judged by how all Californians are taking the steps they can to increase water conservation.

This is not our first drought. it won’t be the last. We must accept dry conditions as our new reality and work together to save more and strengthen the reliability of California’s water supply for the future.

Steve Welch is the general manager of the Contra Costa Water District. Sandy Kerl is the general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. They wrote it for CalMattersa public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how the California Capitol works and why it matters.

Opinion: One Size Doesn’t Fit All for Drought Response, But All Californians Must Help Source link Opinion: One Size Doesn’t Fit All for Drought Response, But All Californians Must Help

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