California will have water consumption limits for the first time after ‘landmark’ legislation passed


For the first time in the state’s history, California is setting permanent water-consumption goals to prepare for future droughts and climate change, with a local elected official involved in the historic move.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1668, one of the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday. Her district also includes Burbank.

Brown also signed Assembly Bill 606 by Robert Herzberg (D-Van Nuys). The laws will go into effect in January.

“A lot of us have taken water for granted, but it’s not something we can take for granted in Southern California,” Friedman said. “Climate change, drought — we need to make sure it doesn’t impact life and safety and the economic future of our state.”

Together, the two bills establish an indoor, per-person water use goal of 55 gallons per day until 2025. The limit decreases to 52.5 gallons until 2030 and 50 gallons beginning in 2030. It will be the responsibility of water agencies to work with users to meet the goals.

The laws will also mandate that the state create incentives for water suppliers to recycle water and require urban and agricultural water suppliers to set annual water budgets.

The Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board will hold hearings with outdoor water agencies and recommend standards that are more flexible, since these agencies have water plans that vary greatly depending on their size and location.

California already has goals for car and energy efficiency, so it’s about time the state, which is so vulnerable to drought and climate change, have water efficiency goals, Friedman said.

Friedman’s passion for water efficiency began when she was an elected official in Glendale and, because the city has its own water utility, Glendale Water & Power, she became familiar with conservation issues.

Drafting this type of legislation is a challenge a lot of politicians wouldn’t undertake, she said.

“Water policy is not sexy,” she said. “This bill is very cerebral. It’s hard to put into a sound bite. Politicians tend to shy away from that type of issue. [But] this is a seminal, landmark legislation, and I’m extremely proud to have been a part of it.”

Twitter: @r_valejandra