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Emergency 25% cut in California cities’ water use approved

In the face of a severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency conservation plan Tuesday night that would cut urban water use by 25% — a historic first for the state.After taking public comment for much of the afternoon, board members voted unanimously to adopt the regulations.“We’re in a massive drought unlike anything we’ve experienced,” said Felicia Marcus, the water board chairwoman. Caption Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Caption Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Millions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfires Caption Water authorities to use new tool in fight against water wasters Water authorities to use new tool in fight against water wasters Water authorities to use new tool in fight against water wasters Caption Lawmakers let anti-drought legislation die Lawmakers let anti-drought legislation die Lawmakers let anti-drought legislation die Caption Water rebates a boon to private equity Water rebates

a boon to private equity Water rebates a boon to private equity Caption Drought driving rodents into homes Drought driving rodents into homes Drought driving rodents into homes California Gov. Jerry Brown mandated the cuts in an April 1 executive order. The water board scrambled to design and approve a reduction plan that could be put into effect before the summer, when water use traditionally spikes.The plan will require more than 400 state water suppliers to cut water use 8% to 36% depending on how heavily their customers consume it. Water suppliers were placed in one of eight reduction tiers depending on their residents’ past water use.Some suppliers can apply to be placed in a 4% reduction tier.“Over the course of developing this plan, we received over 700 comments,” said Max Gomberg, the water board’s staff scientist. “Overall  the issue that received the most comment was whether the conservation standard proposed was fair.”lRelated
CALIFORNIASmart water meters help users, agencies gauge usageSee all related According to figures released by the board Tuesday, Californians’ cumulative water savings since last summer totaled just 8.6% as of March — far less than the reduction ordered by Brown.Traditionally, officials said, between 50% and 80% of residential water use during summer months occurs outdoors, and represents the biggest opportunity for savings.“We are entering the summer months and that’s when things are critical,” Gomberg said.The action comes 15 months after Brown urged a voluntary 20% reduction in water use in January 2014.!– Latest drought reportRead the story –“We asked to do a voluntary 20% and almost no one did,” said Water Board Member Frances Spivy-Weber. “And that’s why we have mandatory … It’s the price for not seizing the day.”MORE: Millions of trees are dying due to California droughtTo cut back, residents need to check for leaks, water less often or rip up their lawns. Sometimes they’ll need to make tough decisions about what plants they want to keep alive and which ones they’ll let die.Indoors, Californians need to replace older, less efficient toilets and washing machines.Gomberg said the state would support these transitions.

“We’re building those programs up,” he said. “More appliance rebates. More turf removal rebates.”Gomberg also said the state would keep a close eye on local water agencies. If they’re far behind their targets after the first month, a meeting will be held to review the numbers and conservation programs. For example, the agency may need more public outreach, or more stringent standards on residential watering.Gomberg said the conservation rules could cost water agencies $500 million in lost revenue over nine months. That cost could be passed on to residents and businesses in the form of higher rates.!– A district-by-district look at the proposed drought restrictions Thomas Suh Lauder Thomas Suh Lauder –The board’s plan to achieve the cuts has come under fire from water agencies, interest groups and members of the public who have complained about its equity and fairness.Under the most current plan framework published by the board, Beverly Hills and Bakersfield must slash their water consumption by 36% over the next year because their residents used an average of more than 215 gallons of water per day last summer. Santa Cruz residents used only about 45 gallons a day during the same period and have to cut their consumption by only 8%.Marc Marcantonio, general manager of the Yorba Linda water district, said during Tuesday’s meeting that conservation rules could make it harder to battle wildfires.”The risk of wildfire … is higher than ever,” he said. He said the district has been stocking up water to protect the city, adding about 10 gallons of water use per capita.Jennifer Hansen, public services director in Lincoln, said the town may struggle to hit its assigned 36% target cut. She expects the town will need to limit watering to once a week.”We’ll be seeing brown lawns. We’ll be seeing lots of vegetation dying.”Said Marcus: “I know this is going to be hard…. This is a challenging time.”Twitter: @ByMattStevens Twitter: @montemorinTwitter: @chrismegerian Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times UPDATES7:28 p.m.: This post was updated with the board vote.1:32 p.m.: This post was updated with additional public comments.12:36 p.m.: This post was updated with additional comments from state water board scientist Max Gomberg.10:30 a.m.: This post was updated to include March water conservation figures.This story was first posted at 6:30 a.m.


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