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Water Legislation FAQs


On May 31, 2018 Gov. Jerry Brown enacted into law two new bills that require urban water providers throughout California to set new permanent water use targets for their service areas by 2022. Senate Bill 606 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 1668 (Friedman) provide a framework for setting water use targets, as well as implementing and enforcing the new water use requirements.

Many of the specifics have yet to be developed, and will take years to implement. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions:

How does the new law impact customers?

There are no immediate impacts to customers. Over the next several years, specific water use targets will be established for each water provider’s overall service area based upon the standards outlined in the law. The water use targets must be established by 2022 and implemented in 2023. PCWA will continue to work with individual households and businesses to increase their water efficiency through rebates and education, like our water-wise program.

I heard it is now illegal to take a shower and wash clothes on the same day, is this true?

No. There is nothing in the law that specifies when or how often a person may shower, do laundry, or use water for any other purpose. The law does set an indoor residential standard of 55 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) starting in 2023, dropping to 50 GPCD by 2030; however, this amount applies to the aggregate water use of PCWA’s entire water system.

The amount of water that a clothes water uses can vary widely, and if you own an old one your home could easily go well over the new state residential standard on laundry day. Older washers use 29 to 45 gallons per load; most high-efficiency washers use 15 to 30 gallons per load; and, the most efficient washers use less than 5 gallons per load. Encouraging customers to replace old machines as they wear out with high-efficiency models will be one of the best ways for PCWA to meet this new standard.

Will water providers be monitoring and evaluating individual water use as part of the new law?

There is no requirement in the new law that individual households must meet a specific target. The new law provides a framework for setting targets, but those will be applied on a system-wide basis. Each water purveyor will determine the best way to meet the target. PCWA encourages its customers to continue using water efficiently and understands that water savings are best achieved through customer education and awareness.

PCWA will remain engaged, in an attempt to protect the reasonable and efficient use of water by our customers, as the state develops regulations to implement the new law. The outcome of those negotiations will determine how aggressive PCWA must be with its highest water use customers in order to comply.

Will individual residents and businesses be fined for not meeting water use targets?

For several years, the law has allowed local water purveyors to fine individual customers up to $500 per day for certain defined unreasonable water use practices. To date, PCWA has not fined any of its customers. When we find or get a report of wasteful water use we work with the customer to identify solutions to meet legitimate needs but avoid wasting water. We intend to continue this approach of cooperative education with our customers in order to reach compliance with these new state mandates.

Fines established by this new law apply solely to water purveyors (up to $1,000 per day for failure to meet water use targets).

Why did PCWA oppose the legislation?

PCWA opposed to the legislation, on principle, because we do not have a water supply problem in our service area. However, because the majority of Californians live in the south part of the state, where limited water supplies have made aggressive conservation necessary for more than 20 years, the Governor and the Legislature made it the rule for everyone, regardless of local water supply conditions.

Also, it is worth noting that this measure does very little to solve any real problems. 50% of the developed surface water supply in California is already dedicated to the environment; 40% goes to agriculture; and, all urban demands combined use only 10%. More specifically, northern California urban demands use only 2-3% of the available surface water. This means conserving an extra 15%, throughout all of northern Californian’s urban areas, yields a net increase of only about 0.5% in the overall statewide water supply. This law was more about the enforcement of correct thinking, rather than problem solving.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Water is precious and should never be wasted. Our customers have made great strides to become more efficient with their water use over the past 10 years. We expect that reasonable people will win out in the final regulations and that PCWA’s water system will be able to comply with the continued help and cooperation of our customers. PCWA will continue to defend our customer’s right to all of the water they need, so long as the use is efficient and beneficial.

For any other questions, please contact PCWA Customer Services at (530) 823-4850

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