California Regulators Approve Unprecedented Water Restrictions

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


Compliance with an unprecedented order from the governor to cut water use across the state by 25 percent starting next month -- that's what state water board members were focused on during a meeting that went well into the evening Tuesday.

Their unanimous vote  during what was described as an "all hands on deck moment" for California.

It establishes a tiered system for how much each of the state's 411 water districts will have to cut to meet the governor's demand in the face of intensifying drought.

The Fair Oaks district, for example,  would have to slash use by 36 percent -- one of the highest goals in the state.

For someone using one full gallon of water in that area in 2013, they would only be able to use 64 percent of it this summer.

More than 60 districts and individuals spoke to board members Tuesday before their vote -- many of them worried there would be no way to make the required cuts before being slapped with fines.

"We have money to help people with some of these things we also have rebate money ... for appliances and fixtures and DWR to help to with turf rebates," said Felicia Marcus, the chairwoman of California's Water Resources Control Board. "So really  it's one of these things where all different parts of government are stepping up to help with carrots as well as sticks. People tend to focus on the stick but our goal isn't the stick. Our goal is conservation."

Marcus feels confident all the districts will be able to help California meet the governor's goal.

She believes it's important the state take these short-term steps for long-term benefit in the face of an uncertain drought forecast.

Without aggressive action she says California could become like Australia which didn't plan well enough during its water crisis and ended up having to assign customers a specific number of gallons for use per day.

State experts say 50-80 percent of  the water used in the state's water districts comes from the homeowners tending to their outdoor greenery.

Their advice?

Turn off your home irrigation system now.