Billionaire-studded Beverly Hills will be ordered to cut water usage by 36% under a tough new mandate proposed by regulators on Saturday to try to help parchedCalifornia cope with its extreme drought.
Los Angeles will have to reduce usage by 16%; the more environmentally conscious San Francisco will only have to reduce its water consumption by 8% after doing more in the last year to cut use voluntarily, according to the CaliforniaState Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The framework of new emergency water conservation regulations was announced on Saturday as the proposed outline of efforts to conform with Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order, issued on 1 April, that California must cut water use in urban areas by 25% in the next year. Emergency regulations for agriculture in the state are still under discussion.
On Saturday a table of targets – backed up with heavy potential fines for water companies – was issued to cover different cities and counties.
The framework will be open for comments before a further draft is drawn up and then the final version of the regulations is issued next month. Reductions will then have to be achieved by the end of February 2016.
“We don’t know when it [the drought] will end,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the SWRCB, said on Saturday. “Californians need to step up; we don’t even know if it will rain or snow much in the next year.”
California is suffering from a prolonged drought, with two-thirds of the state in extreme drought conditions and 41% suffering from the most serious classification issued by state authorities – “exceptional drought”.
The new proposals are likely to provoke opposition from urban water supply companies, which will be fined $10,000 a day if they fail to achieve the cuts.
After four years of drought, the state has warned Californians that they need to make “real lifestyle changes”.
A plan to voluntarily cut water use across the state by 20% failed, with most areas falling far short and some areas, particularly in southern California, increasing water consumption, Governor Brown said earlier this month, saying he had therefore been forced to issue an executive order. The state only managed to achieve a 9% reduction in water consumption.
Fresno, Burbank and Sonoma must slash water use by 28% under the latest proposal, with Napa and Palo Alto being told to reduce by 24%. At the lowest end of the spectrum, San Francisco and Santa Cruz will be required to cut water use by 8%.Under the new proposed mandate, Beverly Hills is given the most dramatic reduction level, of 36%. Also included at that level are San Bernadino County, Coachella Valley, Modesto and Tahoe City. Not far behind, Newport Beach, Sacramento County and the city of San Bernadino would be told to cut water use by 32%.
San Diego and Santa Barbara will have to cut water consumption by 16% and San Jose by 20% if the framework ends up being mandated as outlined.
Under the proposals, householders would not be able to use hosepipes without shut-off mechanisms. Although hosepipes would not be banned outright, hosing sidewalks for cleanliness with potable water would be banned and only drip or micro-spray sprinklers allowed.
Restaurant and café-goers will only be given glasses of tap water upon request, not automatically upon sitting down. Many establishments have been doing so voluntarily.
The water restrictions will not be imposed on individual city and county authorities but on the water supply companies that services them.
The state is also encouraging people to recycle water from washing machines to flush toilets or water lawns.
- This article was amended on 19 April to correctly identify the percentage cut in water use proposed for Los Angeles. It is 16%, not 36% as was stated