Brown to help cities bolster water waste enforcement

Directs state agencies to streamline environmental review of local water supply projects

Governor Jerry Brown, meeting with mayors from across the state, said he will propose legislation to help local officials better enforce conservation requirements.

He also plans tol direct state agencies to streamline environmental review of local water supply projects.

"These measures will strengthen the ability of local officials to build new water projects and ensure that water is not wasted," Brown said. "As this drought stretches on, we'll continue to do whatever is necessary to help communities save more water."

The proposed legislation will give new enforcement authority to local entities that don't currently have it and increase potential penalties against water wasters. It will specifically:

- Establish a new penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, expanding on $500 per day maximum infraction established in last year's drought legislation.

- Allow penalties to be issued administratively by wholesale and retail water agencies, as well as city and county governments. This change speeds up an infraction process involving courts that was established in last year's emergency drought legislation.

- Enable these entities to enforce local water restrictions against water waste, as well as conservation restrictions established by the State Water Resources Control Board.

- Allow local public agencies to deputize staff to issue water conservation-related warnings and citations.

This legislation will give all water agencies and local governments a consistent, minimum set of enforcement authorities to achieve required water conservation, Brown explained. Local water agencies with existing authorities to enforce against water waste can continue to use those authorities.

Under the proposed legislation, any monetary penalties from this enforcement will be used for local conservation efforts.

Separately, to streamline environmental permitting for critical water supply projects, the governor directed his Office of Planning and Research and other state agencies to help local water agencies reduce the time required to comply with state-required environmental reviews.

These permit streamlining efforts will focus on projects that can increase local water supplies with limited environmental impacts. The governor's office will also explore legislative changes that can speed-up delivery of critical water supply projects.

In recent weeks, Brown has convened top agricultural, environmental, urban water agency and business leaders from across California to discuss the state's drought and conservation efforts.

Earlier this month, he announced the first ever 25% statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

This order included measures to help:

- Replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models;

- Cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes;

- Prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used, and,

- Stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Within days of the governor's order, the State Water Resources Control Board released its framework to achieve the mandatory water reductions and the California Energy Commission approved new water appliance standards to save billions of gallons of water per year.

The Water Resources Control Board also announced that due to the severe drought it will install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento San Joaquin Delta channel to help prevent the saltwater contamination of water that 25 million Californians depend on.

These measures build on unprecedented action by the Water Control Board over the past year to prohibit other wasteful water use and encourage Californians to conserve, including strict limits on outdoor irrigation (two days a week in much of California) and bans on hosing down outdoor surfaces, decorative water fountains that don't recirculate water and car washing without an automatic shut-off nozzle.

Bars and restaurants are also now required to only serve water upon request and hotels must ask guests staying multiple nights whether linens and towels need to be washed.

For more than two years, the state's experts have been managing water resources to deal with the effects of the drought, which include severely curtailed water supplies to agricultural producers, farmworker job losses due to fallowed fields, drinking water vulnerability in communities across California, heightened fire danger and threats to endangered and threatened fish and wildlife.

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5 people like this
Posted by Time to change
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:47 am

If Gov. Brown wants to establish $10,000.00 fines - where will this money go? He does not want salinization plants to help us - but we want to fund a FAST-TRAIN?

I hope there will be an audit of all fines collected.

I am for conservation and we are doing our part like most property owners in our city. The city with all of the new building should have funds from permits to set up an account that is for installing lines in the city with potable water for our yards. Yes this will cost, but at least we can start doing something for the future if this happens again.

2 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Seems like it would not be that difficult to set up a system for non-potable water collection and reuse at your own home. you would need to set up your showers to drain to a tank rather than to the sewer. Then you could hook up your irrigation system to the tank. This would eliminate the business of driving a truck over to the treatment plant and carrying the water back to your house. You'd need to be careful to use soaps and shampoos that wouldn't hurt your plants, but that's doable.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2015 at 4:49 pm

@ Sunshine - you do realize that you would have to take over one hundred showers just to water your lawn once!
People are using the water from the treatment plant because that is the only way you can conserve water and still have somewhat of a green lawn.
Yes, saving grey water and such is good, but when you do the math it makes no sense to try and save plants with water used indoors. I think the state is telling you not to waste water but on the other hand we shouldn't be foolish. Anything that uses water needs to be operated on a regular basis. If you don't the seals will hardened and you have got bigger problems. The same for the foundation of your house. If the soil is left to dry completely out, the contraction/expansion forces pushing/pulling on the foundation can cause major damage. Penny wise - pound foolish.

1 person likes this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 30, 2015 at 9:29 am

Ironic it says he will try and speed up environmental process for water suppliers when it is the environmental movements fault for blocking and hindering any sort of water storage plan. Amazing how we have allowed the left to socially engineer how we live and lead our daily lives.

1 person likes this
Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Del Prado
on May 1, 2015 at 8:23 am

just washed my car in the driveway. Gonna top off my pool and then take a nice long shower. Quit building. Get rid of the illegals using my water and i will conserve. Until then i will play the states game. Every man for himself! Laws dont matter and who cares about the other guy. Its simply all about me. I learned this from the obama administration. I love a nice long shower.

2 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 1, 2015 at 9:04 am

@"pleasanton was nice": "just washed my car in the driveway. Gonna top off my pool and then take a nice long shower."

Gotta admire a man who is willing to stick up for his principles and cut his nose to spite his face despite the hefty fines and surcharges he's going to get.

4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2015 at 10:07 am


Urban water isn't the problem. It is all agriculture. There is plenty of water to wash our cars, water our lawns, take long showers, and fill our swimming pools. We need to stop growing almonds and the like.

Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

@Bobb: "Urban water isn't the problem. It is all agriculture."

I absolutely agree with you. If you drive along I-5 either north or south you can see miles and miles and miles of orchards, rice fields, and other agricultural efforts in what would otherwise be dry, barren land. Lot's of sunshine, though, so perhaps it made sense to develop agriculture out there when water was plentiful. But now with the drought and water shortage, it doesn't make much sense to strictly curtail residential water use while ignoring the fact that 80% of the state's available water is used by California agriculture. Controls on agricultural use of water in California has to be part of the solution.

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