Water

No, Pass area residents, it is not against the law to shower and do laundry on the same day.

Californians will have to use less water, it is true, but this is not a new concept for us.

However, hysteria ensued — even sparking talks of a mass exodus — after news organizations erroneously reported on water conservation restrictions, stating under Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668 residents could face $1,000 fines per day if they used more than 55 gallons of water per person per day, starting January 1.

Neither bill sets fines on water customers. Instead, they outline conservation standards for water districts and municipalities — again not individual residents.

Water agencies like the Inland Empire Utilities Agency can be fined if they fail to meet conservation goals — up to $10,000 per day, but the California State Water Board will not enforce these standards until November 2023.

Despite the recent attention these bills have been gaining, they were actually signed into law on May 21, 2018, by then Governor Jerry Brown.

The legislation was a result of efforts to conserve water use amid California’s drought seasons; California had just witnessed a five-year drought as it were; where water usage was slashed and residents saw imposed surcharges on their water bills.

The drought ended in April 2017, but the blanketed approach to fixing the water crisis was not a means to an end, in fact it caused another issue: low-income households not being able to afford clean water.

Consequently, the new bills require water providers throughout California to set new permanent water use targets for their service areas to prepare for upcoming cyclical droughts.

The long-term water efficiency legislation requires water agencies to calculate a water standard for their entire service area annually based on indoor residential water use; outdoor water use; and commercial, industrial and institutional irrigation.

The 55 gallons per person per day, for indoor residential water use is a measurement and is not intended as an enforceable benchmark for residents — it is one of several elements used to calculate the standard for an area given the variety of household types, weather conditions and property sizes throughout the state. Outdoor water-use goals will also be established.

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, they estimate a family of four would use 60 gallons per person, per day if they lived in a home with old and inefficient toilets, faucets, showerheads, dishwasher, and a 40-gallon washing machine. Also included in the estimate are four eight-minute showers, a load of laundry and a load of dishes each day.

If the same family replaced only the washing machine with a high-efficiency model, use would decrease to 54 gallons per person per day.

The goal will be reduced to 52.5 gallons per person per day by 2025 and 50 gallons by 2030.

Tell us what you think — are you concerned about the new indoor water limits?

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