Yes, I am afraid it’s true. Soon enough, each of you out there in the People’s Republic of California will be relegated to 55 gallons per day for your internal water use. 55 gallons per day for cooking, cleaning, flushing the toilet, washing dishes, washing clothes, washing the dog, etc. So along with counting calories on Weight Watchers, you can count ounces or gallons used for each task.
Surely, you think to yourself, this must just be for drought emergencies, when water is in short supply, like a couple of years ago. Au contraire!
Rain, monsoon, biblical flood, reservoirs overflowing, or cars being washed down the street, these usage restrictions will be in place, all the time, no matter what’s up with the water supply. In a statewide drought, the new law still gives the Governor the power to ask you to cut back even more.
Well, you think, there must be a big problem with the water supply to impose such drastic measures. There must be a certain amount of water we are seeking to save? Well, actually water supplies statewide are in pretty good shape. Here in the San Diego region, thanks to efforts to develop water transfers, water conservation projects, seawater desalination, wastewater reclamation, and new storage, we have a very ample water supply; actually more than we need for a long–time to come.
The reality is, no one in Sacramento has stated how much we need to save, or will save with these new regulations. The closest someone has come to a reason for these draconian measures, is the statement from the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, “We just have to do better” at water conservation. This statement came after the state’s people and water agencies’ work pulled the state through one of the longest and most severe droughts on record.
Not only will you be forced to use less, the water will cost more. It will cost more over the next few years to gear up the staffing and technologies to implement the new water conservation mandates. We will become “nose counters” to determine what “Capitas” you have in your home so we can set your internal water budget. We will have to install “smart meters” that can monitor and report your usage on a real-time basis to help us and you track where you are in your monthly budget so you can avoid any usage penalties at the end of the month.
Usage penalties you ask. Under the new scheme, water agencies will get an annual budget, and if we exceed our budget, the state can exact heavy fines on us. In turn, we will have to develop water budgets for each and every household and business. If the District exceeds its budget, it gets fined by the state, so if you exceed your budget, you will likely be fined by us….
I guess the good news is that all this won’t kick in for a few years, like the mid-2020’s. In the mean-time, the state’s burgeoning army of bureaucrats will be busy developing reams of new regulations to be implemented on your water supplier, on you.
What can be done about this you ask? First of all, your water agency, along with hundreds of others statewide, have fought against the regulations for over a year. While we didn’t stop them, we were successful in making them a little less onerous; a little. So what can be done now? Well the harsh political reality is California is a one party state, with the one party highly influenced by the Environmental Community, which is hell bent on imposing its lifestyle values on you. Our local State Senate (Joel Anderson) and Assembly (Marie Waldron) representatives voted against the new laws, but the members of the other party representing San Diego voted in favor, along party lines.
So politically, it’s highly unlikely that a future legislature and Governor will act to remove these regulations. The fact is they are working on proposals right now to place a Water Tax on your monthly bill to fix water quality problems elsewhere in the state and help low income folks pay their monthly water bills. Yes, it gets better and better, doesn’t it…?
If there is hope, it is with you and California’s referendum process. The referendum process was put in place about 100 years ago to deal with an out-of-control Governor and State Legislature, dominated by special interests. It seems we have come full circle, and now have a Governor and Legislature out of control and dominated by special interests. 100 years ago, the special interests were the railroads; now it’s the Environmental Community.
So, this November, let’s see how the referendum to repeal the new gas tax goes. There-in may lay the answer to these new heavy handed, top down water use, no actually lifestyle restrictions.
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Gary Arant is General Manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District.