Calif. announces new water conservation actions

Oct. 3, 2022
The state’s Department of Water Resources announced new pending outdoor water use recommendations, new indoor water use legislation, financial assistance for turf transition and water conservation, and tax exemptions for turf transitions.

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced new actions to save water resources.

If approved, DWR says that the steps could save enough water to supply 4.7 million Californians annually while making conservation more affordable through financial assistance and tax exemptions.

The actions promote residents’ indoor and outdoor water conservation, provide financial assistance turf transitions and water conservation, and provides tax exemptions for turf transitions.

“We have the tools to make it easier than ever for Californians to conserve water and we’re taking action to get it done. It will take forward-thinking practices to ensure that we’re managing our water resources resiliently now and for the future,” says DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “From regulatory recommendations to funding for lawn replacement and water conservation, DWR is putting California on the path to achieve historic water savings.”

The new actions will build on California’s ongoing long-term efforts to promote water conservation and to advance the water efficiency efforts outlined in California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future. The plan, released by Governor Gavin Newsom this summer, sets a target of securing 500,000 acre-feet of additional water per year through increased efficiency and conservation.

The department announced the following actions:

Outdoor Water Use Recommendations

DWR has submitted outdoor water use efficiency recommendations to the State Water Resources Control Board. With outdoor water use accounting for 50 percent of urban resident water use on average, the recommendations outline standards that would provide urban retail water suppliers with a framework to support more efficient outdoor residential water use. The framework will also include standards for the irrigation of large commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) landscapes in their service areas.

The recommendations will be evaluated by the State Water Resources Control Board through a formal rulemaking process, which will include additional analysis, engagement, and opportunity for public comment.

Indoor Water Use Legislation Signed

California also recently took additional steps to increase indoor water use savings with Governor Newsom’s signing of Senate Bill 1157 (Hertzberg), which adopts recommendations made by DWR and the State Water Board last year to reduce indoor water use targets to 47 gallons per day by 2025 and 42 gallons by 2030. By adjusting indoor water use standards to reflect the joint recommendation of DWR and the State Water Board, the legislation will help increase water conservation and water use efficiency.

Financial Assistance for Turf Transition and Conservation

DWR also announced a set of funding programs for projects that strengthen resilience in urban communities, turf transition for residential and commercial landscapes, and water conservation programs for urban water suppliers. DWR says that these programs will help to clear some of the hurdles that underserved communities face with direct install programs and support for local water agencies, while also helping build resiliency with equity in mind. DWR plans to release these grant programs in October.

Turf Tax Exemption

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2142 (Gabriel), which will exempt from state income tax calculations any grant, rebate, or additional financial assistance awarded from a state or local agency for turf transition. The law will provide the exemption through tax year 2027.

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