EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to clarify the target of the water rules is water agencies, but that cutting usage will require cutbacks from downstream users.
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There will soon be more focus on flushes and scrutiny over showers with a new law signed in by the governor.
California is now the first state in the nation to enact tough new water-efficiency standards. The controversial rules are targeted at water districts to cut per capita water usage, but in order to meet the goals, those cuts will trickle down to the customers they serve.
“So that everyone in California is at least integrating efficiency into our preparations for climate change,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.
So, what are the new rules?
In 2022, the new indoor water standard will be 55 gallons per person, per day. by 2030, it will fall to 50 gallons.
“With a child and every day having to wash clothes, that’s, just my opinion, not feasible. But I get it and I understand that we’re trying to preserve…but 55 gallons a day?” said Tanya Allen, who has a 4-year-old daughter.
Just how many gallons do household chores take?
An 8-minute shower uses about 17 gallons of water, a load of laundry up to 40, and a bathtub can hold 80 to 100 gallons of water.
“She likes to bathe three times a day and she does laundry all day,” said Rocka Mitchell from Texas.
He and his wife Ginger are living in Sacramento for work and say it would be hard to conserve.
“I couldn’t do it. My family is way too large,” she said.
Retrofitting homes with water-efficient fixtures could help cut back.
“I think the average new home is 35 gallons per person per day, so we are not talking emergency conservation here,” Marcus said.
Greg Bundesen with the Sacramento Suburban Water District says they already assist customers.
“We offer toilet rebates, we offer complementary showerheads, we offer complementary faucets,” he said.
The new laws also require water districts to perform stress tests of their water supply and curb loss due to leaks.
“Right now we lose up to 30 percent of urban water just to leaks in the system,” Marcus said.
Agencies believe fixing those leaks and educating residents is the key.
“Some people may not be aware that you’re going to use a lot more water in a bath and you wouldn’t shower and it’s our job to make sure they’re informed,” Bundesen said.
Water districts who don’t comply face fines up to $10,000 a day.
The ultimate goal is to make conservation a way of life in California. Outdoor water use is also covered by the new laws.
Standards will be based on a region’s climate and other factors instead of just one standard for the whole state.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to clarify the target of the water rules.