By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
So can you live on 55 gallons of water a day? No one can. Legislation just enacted broadens authority of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), an unelected, unaccountable board. The new mandates establish an indoor water use budget of 55 gallons/day for all Californians until 2025, reduced to 50 gallons/day after 2030. Civil penalties apply to water districts that are unable to meet the new guidelines. I opposed both SB606 and AB1668 which created these regulations.
It’s all so unnecessary. San Diego County has largely divorced itself from Northern California water – over the last 5 years 72% of our water has come from the Colorado River, another 15% from local sources, including reclamation and desalination. Unfortunately, the state’s new mandates will discourage local conservation efforts. Why have we spent so much on water conservation if we still suffer the same penalties and restrictions as other regions that have made little effort to conserve?
Here’s just one example of why one-size-fits-all water policies don’t work. According to Gary Arant, General Manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, water consumption in Valley Center has already decreased 59% since 2007, yet the new regulations require even deeper cuts. Upfront costs to implement the new measures could be as high as $6 million, with an additional $1.6 million spent annually in labor and administrative costs. This represents an ongoing 15% increase in VCMWD’s operating budget, costs that will be passed along in customer’s water bills. Similar costs will affect most water districts.
Our water problems are the result of political decisions that have prevented construction of additional storage reservoirs. I am working on bi-partisan legislation to increase access to reclaimed water for agriculture and increase water storage in our state and region.
Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.