California Governor Gavin Newsom threatened on Monday to impose mandatory water restrictions if residents do not reduce their water use on their own as the drought continues and hotter summer approaches.
Newsom raised this possibility at meetings with representatives of major water utilities that supply water to the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco Bay Areas, his office said. press release. Rather than avoiding full and mandatory cuts to water use, the Democratic governor favored an approach that empowers cities and towns to set rules for water use supplied by local water agencies.
January to March is typically the period with most of California’s annual rain and snow, but this year was the driest period in at least 100 years. State water use despite conservation calls— 19% compared to the same month in 2020 — Now Newsom is considering changing its approach.
“All water agencies across the state must be more proactive in communicating about drought emergencies and implementing conservation measures,” Governor Newsom said in a statement.
California in itDrought and virtually all parts of the state are classified as severe drought or extreme drought.
Newsom last summer encouraged Californians to voluntarily cut water use by 15% by taking a five-minute shower, avoiding bathing, running washing machines and dishwashers at full load, and limiting water use to clean outdoor spaces. urged. However, the residents fell far short of the target.
It wasn’t clear how quickly Newsom could impose mandatory restrictions if conservation wasn’t improved. He plans to meet with the water agencies again in two months, his office said. Spokesperson Erin Mellon said the administration would reassess conservation progress “in a matter of weeks.” She didn’t give the administration a metric to use to measure it.
Newsom has already moved to force more conservation in local waters. He directed the State Water Management Board to consider banning watering ornamental lawns, such as those in office parks, and direct local agencies to step up conservation efforts.
after the last, states have begun requiring cities and other water districts to submit drought response plans detailing six levels of conservation based on the amount of water available to them. Newsom has asked the board to move the district to “Level 2” of the plan, which assumes a 20% water shortage.
Each district can set its own rules for “Level 2,” which often includes further limiting outdoor water use and paying people to install more efficient appliances or landscaping that require less water. It includes things like This should include a communication plan urging local residents to use less water.
The Board of Directors will vote on these measures on Tuesday and will take effect June 10th.
During a tour of Los Angeles County’s water recycling plant last week, Newsom spoke to the 39 million people in Los Angeles County about the need to better communicate the need to conserve water. He included $100 million in the budget for the drought message.
Between 2012 and 2016, during the last drought period, former Governor Jerry Brown announced a mandatory 25% reduction in the state’s overall water use, and the State Water Council’s requirements for how much each water district should reduce based on existing water use. has been set. ; Areas where people use more water have been asked to reduce more water. Water agencies may be subject to fines of up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance.
Newsom’s current approach gives local water districts more flexibility and it’s important to recognize that different parts of the state have their own water needs, he said.
The state water commission has imposed several statewide restrictions, including a ban on people watering lawns and a ban on sprinklers running on sidewalks for 48 hours after a storm. Violations may result in a fine of $500 per day.
Meeting attendees included representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Southern California Metropolitan Capital District, Alameda County Water District, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Valley Water, and San Diego County Capital. Authorities, California Association of Water Agencies, California Municipal Water Agencies, and California Municipal Utilities Association. The meeting was not open to the press or the public.