Cities and state agencies advance water efficiency efforts

Oct 25, 2023

Cities and state agencies are both advancing water efficiency goals. At the center of these efforts are draft regulations that would create long-term water conservation targets for 400 urban water suppliers statewide, including 200 cities.

With California swinging from one extreme weather event to the next, the state is looking at various ways to cultivate long-term water conservation. The goal is to make conservation a way of life and lessen the need for emergency water reductions during droughts.

The draft regulations are part of a 2018 legislative package. On Oct. 17, the League of California Cities submitted comments to the State Water Resources Control Board requesting flexibility for cities. The proposed changes are in line with the legislative package’s original timeline.

Many cities are making progress toward true water savings. However, many cities and urban water suppliers also need time to implement the regulations in a way that is feasible and achievable. Currently, the proposed rules raise affordability, administrative, and reporting concerns — especially for smaller communities.

The state is seeking to conserve approximately 500,000 acre-feet each year by 2030. An acre-foot is equal to the size of a football field covered in 1 foot of standing water.

State partnerships can help bridge critical resource gaps

As with any big regulatory change, partnerships and funding are the key to success. In mid-October, the Department of Water Resources awarded $19.1 million in grant funding to support the city of Los Angeles’ water efficiency efforts in disadvantaged communities and expand water recycling in the region.

The project infuses $14.6 million into an existing turf replacement program for homeowners in underserved areas that could save millions of gallons of water each year. The rest of the grant funding will go to a recycled water pipeline. Officials expect the pipeline to provide 3.5 million gallons of drinking water per day to 47,000 Angelenos.

Efforts like these need to happen throughout California for the state to meet its water conservation goals. Cal Cities will continue to work with the state to ensure any proposed regulations can be successfully implemented at the local level.

To stay updated on the draft regulations — or join the Cal Cities water work group — email Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Melissa Sparks-Kranz. For more information about the state’s efforts to increase water conservation, please visit the grant funding announcement or rulemaking webpage.