Local Water Providers In The Sacramento Valley Support Emergency Conservation Regulations

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

By Jim Peifer, Regional Water Authority (RWA)

We support the State Water Board’s action this week as California endures a third year of serious drought. The resolution focuses on local actions, providing water suppliers with flexibility to implement Stage 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans, and also makes an exception for trees in guidelines for fallowing non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors.

The RWA Board of Directors recently unanimously supported a call for customers to conserve water by at least 15 percent. This call was renewed from 2021 despite the fact that local water providers are well-positioned to meet water supply needs this year, even with drought conditions. Sacramento is part of a larger integrated statewide water system that is under stress, and we are prepared to do our part.

RWA’s action is meant to reinforce the local conservation guidelines and mandates already in place since 2021 or that are currently under discussion as local water providers prepare to implement demand response actions in their Stage 2 water shortage contingency plans, if they haven’t already.

The cities of Roseville and Folsom, for example, have been requiring customers to conserve 20 percent since August of 2021. Other water providers significantly increased rebate amounts to encourage conservation, setting new records for rebate applications in Sacramento, Roseville and the Placer County Water Agency.

RWA in 2021 also significantly ramped up its regional advertising to further encourage customer conservation, via television, radio and billboards, a campaign that will continue throughout this summer.

Unfortunately, despite these efforts, local water use reductions have remained below targets. This is not unexpected, given that the January through March period this year was the driest in state history, and most household water use in our area occurs in landscapes.

We must do more to conserve, but we also need to move away from managing water supplies through emergency measures. We need to build the infrastructure that will allow California to adapt to our changing climate. The Sacramento Regional Water Bank will help us do that by allowing us to store excess surface water underground so that it is available during dry times.

Today, as we enter the peak water use season, we are calling on residents and businesses to do their part to conserve by reducing sprinklers by two minutes each cycle while continuing to water your trees. In addition, take steps to stop water waste both inside and outside your home and business. About a third of landscape water is lost due to overwatering and evaporation. Although there are many ways to save water at home, conserving water outdoors can make the biggest difference of all—especially as we head into the hot summer months where household use doubles or triples compared to winter use.

You can find conservation tips, details about rebates, information about efficiently watering trees  and a regional map with watering guidelines at BeWaterSmart.info. You can find information about operational changes such as groundwater banking at rwah2o.org/waterfuture.

Jim Peifer is the Executive Director of the Regional Water Authority, which represents 21 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region. This statement was issued in response to the State Water Board’s adoption of Drought-Related Emergency Conservation Regulations. Formed in 2001, RWA’s primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at rwah2o.org.

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