Proposed regulations from the State Water Resources Control Board would require more than a dozen local water suppliers to conserve 32-percent or more. For the most part, those agencies have used education to get people to conserve.
“Teaching residents on how to use water efficiency, as opposed to just fining them, you’re kind of creating this ethic. So that’s traditionally, and especially last year, has been the approach of the water agencies," says Amy Talbot with the Regional Water Authority. "It kind of remains to be seen what approach will be taken this year.”
Sacramento area water suppliers are hopeful that it won’t take much more than education to reach conservation targets.
Under the proposal, the San Juan Water District must conserve 36 percent, the highest rate category in the state. Shauna Lorance, general manager with the district, says customers have already conserved 23 percent without limiting outdoor irrigation to just two days per week and without issuing any fines. But that will change now.
“The intent is going to be that stressed land and landscape is good. I think people can keep things alive. It’s just not going to be the lushest, green, tropical look that some might like,” says Lorance.
The city of Sacramento is stepping up enforcement to meet the proposed conservation requirements. Rhea Serran with the city says it has received so many calls about water waste there is a backlog.
“We have about 61 staff with the city who cover the water misuse complaints and we look at everything. So there is a little bit, a few weeks out of backlogs, but we are always looking into it,” says Serran.
The city of Sacramento issued $15,000 worth of fines last year. But Serran says education about water conservation is still the city’s primary goal.