California Phasing In Historic Water Restrictions

Municipal suppliers must start cutting back or face big fines
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2024 5:00 PM CDT
California Phasing In Historic Water Restrictions
This file photo shows an area of drought-stricken Folsom Lake in Folsom, Calif.   (AP Photo/Josh Edelson, File)

California has imposed temporary water restrictions on cities and towns over the years as it battled prolonged droughts. Now, for the first time in its history, the state is imposing permanent restrictions in some areas, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Water regulators have approved a plan to order municipal water suppliers to phase in cuts over the next 15 years, per Newsweek. The rules are expected to take effect Jan. 1.

  • Up to 40%: The severity of the cuts differs depending on the region. Some places, such as the Central Valley, face cuts of about 40%, while in others—such as the Bay Area, where usage has been historically low—no cuts are required. The Desert Sun has details on the regional cuts.

  • Big fines: It's up to the municipal water suppliers to figure out how to make cuts, perhaps through some combination of raising rates, imposing their own restrictions, and encouraging low-flow appliances. Whatever method is used, the suppliers face fines of up to $10,000 a day if they miss their targets.
  • Phased in: The first cuts, where applicable, must be made by 2027, per the Chronicle, with additional targets following in 2030, 2035, and 2040.
  • Takeaway quote: "Our climate has changed. Our uses should match the hydrology that we're now facing," Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the state water board, said in a statement, per the Desert Sun. The Chronicle has more details on the "contentious" fight over the new policy.
(More California stories.)

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