Audio indoor use limits, water budgets and aerial data gathering california’s plan to wean us off water waste 89.3 kpcc electricity word search answer key


In the next 18 months, a small plane will fly over every city in California, recording data on what kind of plants are growing in our lawns, parks and street medians. That data will help determine where we’re wasting water, and help cities use it more efficiently.

But not everyone is happy. Some water agencies say the measures go too far. Some environmentalists say they’re not radical enough for our water woes. But either way, the bills have passed the legislature, and with the governor’s signature, will become law. So…what exactly is in the bills?

The state won’t start enforcing the new, district-wide standards until 2023. Before that, the State Water Resource Control Board will be responsible for gathering the landscape data, and coming up with the new outdoor and leak standards. The first milestone is January, when the board has to report back to the legislature with its recommendation for a leak standard. Why are these changes happening now?

But Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board recognized that those cutbacks were in response to an emergency – the worst drought in 500 years – and that the savings might not be sustainable. Therefore, something different would be required to save water in the long-term.

California Gov. Jerry Brown holds a chart showing statewide average precipitation as he speaks during a news conference on January 17, 2014 in San Francisco. Gov. Brown declared a drought state of emergency for California as the state faces water shortfalls in what is expected to be the driest year in state history. Residents are being asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20%.

The idea, according to Quinn, is to let state officials easily identify communities "that are egregiously wasting water.” She says the bills “should result in greater savings” than a 2009 law that required water agencies to cut their use by 20 percent by 2020, but said it’s really not clear, yet, how much water they will save.

Some worry about the lack of specificity in the measures. Precisely because they don’t assign conservation targets, it’s unclear how much water these bills would actually save. And that makes some people wonder what the point is — like Gary Arant, the general manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District in northern San Diego County.

“The way I view it is, a very small group of people, like the environmental community, is using these regulations to impose their lifestyle perspective on everybody in California,” he said. “They believe we use far too much water. But our water consumption has gone down dramatically in the last 10 years.”

That’s a target for every time you use water – wash the dishes, take a shower, flush the toilet. It shouldn’t be that hard to meet actually because in some cities we’re actually doing that already. And residents of Huntington Park and East Los Angeles, for example, each use less than that in total, indoors and outdoors.

Not by the State Water Resources Control Board. The new indoor, outdoor, and leak targets apply to water districts as a whole, not individual people. But in order to comply with the new standards, water districts may step up enforcement of water use by their customers, or change the way water rates are structured.

Gary Arant, for example, said he’ll have to completely overhaul the way he charges his customers for water. Right now, customers in his district pay a flat rate for water. No matter how much you use, you pay the same amount. Under the new bills, Arant says he will have to change his rate structure to give every customer guidelines to using water efficiently on their property, known as a "water budget". If they go over the budget, they’ll pay a fine or higher rates. First we had a drought, then we didn’t — what’s the latest forecast for our water supply?

We’re doing OK this year. The snowpack in the mountains above the Colorado River, which provides up to a third of Southern California’s water, was 70 percent of normal. And in the Sierra Nevada, our other primary source of drinking water, snowpack was half of normal. Not great, but not a crisis, either.

However the outlook for the future is not good, as climate change threatens both sources of our drinking water. The Colorado River‘s flow has shrunk by seven percent over the past 30 years due to rising air temperatures that suck moisture into the atmosphere from the snow and from the river itself, according to the US Geological Survey. And if we do nothing to control our greenhouse gas emissions, Sierra snowpack could be 64 percent smaller by 2100 than it was at the end of the 20th century, according to a recent UCLA and Oregon State study.

Our groundwater, a key source of supply for many cities and agricultural areas, isn’t in good shape either. Local aquifers sank to historically low levels during the drought and still not have rebounded. A new study in Nature by NASA found that Southwestern California lost 4 gigatons of freshwater from 2007-2015, enough to fill 1.6 million Olympic swimming pools. And the study authors are pessimistic about whether those aquifers will ever recharge, unless we dramatically reduce the amount of water we’re using.

“I’m extremely concerned about water supplies in the next 5 to 20 years,” said Sara Aminzadeh from California Coastkeeper Alliance. “We’ve always been water challenged as a state. All studies indicate we’ll see more frequent droughts and more severe droughts” punctuated by extreme flooding.