For the first time in state history, the Governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent until February 2016. This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville. This is in response to the Sierra measurements today that showed brown grass and an inch of snow where there should be 5 feet of snowpack, resulting in the lowest snowpack recorded in history.

While the media are focusing on the mandatory water reductions of 25%, the Governor directs a whole range of other important actions:

Immediate Water Savings

  • A State Local Partnership to replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments;
  • The creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models;
  • Requiring campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and
  • Prohibiting new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless it is water-efficient irrigation.

Water Pricing

  • The Governor’s order calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.

Increased Oversight and Enforcement of Surface and Groundwater Water Use

  • Surface water rights holders will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state’s ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today’s order.
  • Where water agencies in depleted groundwater basins that have not shared data on their groundwater supplies with the state, enforcement actions will be initiated.

Agricultural Water Management Plans Requirements are Strengthened

  • The Governor’s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.

Permit Streamlining

  • Directs state regulatory agencies to prioritize permits for new water infrastructure projects and notify the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research when permit time exceeds 90 days
  • Streamlines permitting and review of emergency drought salinity barriers, which are needed in the Bay Delta and along the coast.
  • Simplifies the review and approval process for voluntary water transfers and emergency drinking water projects.

New Technology

  • Incentivizing promising new technology that will make California more water efficient through a new program administered by the California Energy Commission.

For more information, review the Executive Order