Water suppliers must now limit the number of days per week that customers can water lawns. If suppliers have no specific restrictions already in place, irrigation is limited to only two days per week. Environmental Scientist Max Gomberg with the Water Board emphasized the dire situation the state now faces.
“If we don’t get the rain and particularly the snow this coming winter, then things like massive drastic restrictions on outdoor irrigation are going to be on the table,” says Gomberg.
The Department of Water Resources says the predicted runoff from snow could be lower than in the drought of 1976 and 1977. California is also so far experiencing its driest March ever. Most people at the board meeting spoke in favor of the tightened restrictions. Conner Everts, with the Southern California Watershed Alliance, told the board it should go further in restricting water use.
"At this point, we're failing," says Everts, referring to California's conservation rate in January, which was just under 9 percent. He told the board it should require water wholesalers to ration water.
“Without a strong direction we’ll continue on this path," says Everts. "We’re not doing what we’ve done in previous droughts, and I’ve wondered why and that’s the one missing element I’ve seen.”
Others urged the water board to make the temporary water rules permanent.
“There’s a real urgency and crisis around this drought and I think we need to see equal reaction from our decision-makers including the state water board along these lines,” says Sarah Aminzadeh with the California Coastkeeper Alliance.
New conservation measures also require restaurants to only serve water to customers who request it and hotels must provide guests the option of not having linens cleaned daily.