Sacramento, California - Working to make water conservation a way of life, state agencies have released a draft plan for achieving long-term efficient water use and meeting drought preparedness goals that reflect California’s diverse climate, landscape and demographic conditions.
The new plan’s fundamental premise is that efficient water use helps all of California better prepare for longer and more severe droughts caused by climate change. California recently suffered the driest four years in state history, with only average rainfall last year, and 75 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, a new report from UCLA projects that the Sierra Nevada snowpack — one of California’s largest sources of water supply — is likely to drop 50 percent by the end of the century due to climate change.
Recognizing these risks and many others, the plan seeks permanent changes to water use that boost efficiency and prepare for more limited water supplies. These practices will help achieve a top priority in the Governor’s Water Action Plan – to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life.”
The plan builds on the success of mandatory water restrictions during California’s severe drought and develops long-term water conservation measures that will ensure all communities have sufficient water supplies. This will involve activities such as ensuring that farmers plan and prepare for severe drought, and permanently banning wasteful practices like hosing off sidewalks and driveways.
The plan represents a shift from statewide mandates to a set of conservation standards based on local circumstances, including population, temperature, leaks, and types of commercial and industrial use. Some of the actions described in this draft plan will require working with the Legislature on new and expanded state authority, while others can be implemented under existing authorities.
All recommendations aim to achieve the main objectives of the Governor’s Executive Order B-37- 16: use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resilience, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning. In addition to taking action to implement this long-term water conservation plan, State agencies recognize the reality that most of California potentially faces a sixth year of historic drought.