Strict California water cutback rules still on the table, state says

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 28, 2015 10:27 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California water regulators said they had created more nuanced ways for communities to show how much water they had used and saved, but refrained from making major changes to proposed new rules aimed at reducing water use in the drought-plagued state.

The rules, released on Tuesday by the staff of the State Water Resources Control Board and board Chair Felicia Marcus, are meant to bring the state into compliance with a 25 percent statewide cutback in urban water use ordered earlier this month by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

The latest proposal, which must be approved by the full board, would still require communities that use the most water to cut back by as much as 36 percent over their usage in 2013.

But it allows communities to recalculate how much water is used per person in a way that is more consistent across the state. The proposal also allows cities in areas where there are no water shortages, such as parts of the far northern coast, to reduce their usage by as little as 4 percent over 2013.

The proposed rules allow local water suppliers to decide whether or not to include commercial, industrial and institutional users in their conservation efforts.

They come on a day when Brown proposed a new law allowing fines of up to $10,000 for the most egregious water wasters.

The State Water Resources Control Board is set to consider the new rules next month.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Eric Beech)