By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Despite record January rainfall, above-average snowpack and rising reservoirs, the state water board stuck to its conservation guns Tuesday, extending the existing drought-related emergency regulations — with minor adjustments — for eight more months.
The State Water Resources Control Board sent a message to California urban water users: A few months of El Niño-fueled storms do not a drought-buster make. So, residents had better keep conserving.
“We look at this as an insurance policy, or as increased security in case the drought continues,” explained Max Gomberg, SWRCB climate and conservation manager.
An extension of the May 1 plan takes effect Feb. 13, the date the plan expires. The new regulations will continue the governor’s goal of 25 percent water conservation through October but provides relief for cities and private water suppliers that can show they’ve added residents, are in a hotter climate zone, and have supplemented potable water with recycled or desalinated supplies.
Under the current regulation, cities, counties and water companies responsible for delivering urban supplies were given conservation targets of 4 percent to 36 percent based on previous water use.
If an agency fails to meet accumulated savings targets by the end of February, it could be fined by the state board.
Some urban water agencies may see conservation standards drop by as little as 2 percent and as much as 8 percent if they ask for relief and receive adjustments from the state water agency.