California has a history of dealing with droughts and floods that have shaped its landscapes since before the state’s founding. With climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more common and severe, and the once robust water supply of the 20th century is no longer reliable. In response to projections of decreased water supply, two water conservation bills were crafted and passed back in 2018. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668 established a framework for long-term water-use efficiency standards for urban water suppliers, aimed at preparing for a drier and less predictable future.

While the indoor use and allowable water loss standards were established by 2023, delays in finalizing the outdoor-use efficiency standards have caused concern. The current proposal allows water utilities until 2035 or later to implement meaningful reductions, despite the urgency of climate change impacts. The water board’s plan risks watering down the efforts made so far, as 72% of Californians may not be required to save additional water for another decade. The need to stretch every drop of water from wet years to sustain through dry periods is critical, and immediate action is necessary.

The water conservation legislation does not dictate specific actions for individuals, but rather sets forth water budgets for water suppliers based on various factors. These customized bottom lines aim to keep faucets flowing and water bills in check by encouraging efficiency investments, such as replacing aging infrastructure and promoting California-friendly plants through rebates. However, the extended timeline for implementing efficiency standards may lead to increased water costs, particularly for low-income households, if not addressed promptly. Investing in efficiency is deemed as the most cost-effective way to align water demand with limited supplies.

Efforts to improve water security, such as wastewater recycling and desalination plants, are essential but require time and costs that are ultimately passed on to customers. Therefore, prioritizing investments in efficiency is seen as common sense to avoid expensive options in the future. The state must establish durable policy to address the pressure on the water supply and implement conservation legislation effectively. Taking action now by reverting to earlier proposed standards and holding utilities accountable to appropriate water budgets is crucial in making efficiency a priority and ensuring a sustainable future for California.

It is essential for state leaders to address the challenges facing California’s water supply and prioritize efficiency investments to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Delaying conservation efforts could lead to increased water costs and potential water scarcity for communities and households. By making efficiency a top priority and implementing robust water conservation measures, California can better prepare for future droughts and ensure water sustainability for all residents. Leaders must act now to prevent further delays and secure the state’s water future for generations to come.

© 2024 Trend Fool. All Rights Reserved.