Cities cannot water grass in median strips, and some cities have already stopped the practice or replaced the grass with rock or drought tolerant landscaping. The state will offer assistance to local governments to remove 50 million square feet of grass and replant with drought tolerance in mind.
“State agencies will create a temporary rebate program to encourage homeowners to replace water-guzzling appliances with high-efficiency ones. Golf courses, campuses and cemeteries must cut their water use. New developments will have to install drip or microspray systems if they irrigate with drinking water. Water agencies will discourage water waste with higher rates and fees,” they said.
Critics of the governor’s proposed new regulations point to agriculture usage, which is estimated at 80 percent, as the most threatening to the state’s water reserves. Adam Scow, director of Food & Water Watch California, called Brown’s order disappointing.
The governor’s order requires water agencies that service agricultural areas to develop drought management plans, with increased reporting on water supply and use. But unlike cities, farms will face no conservation targets, mandatory or otherwise.
“The governor must save our groundwater from depletion by directing the state water board to protect groundwater as a public resource,” Scow said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, said the measure isn't about “finger-pointing”…“It's about everybody having to step up in these tough times.”
Draft regulations will be released for review in about two weeks and approval of the new regulations should be in early May.
The water board will release draft regulations in mid-April to implement the order. It plans to approve the regulations in early May.
Main points of Brown’s water restrictions:
▪ Requires all newly constructed homes and buildings to use drip irrigation or microspray systems to water landscape.
▪ Creates a statewide initiative to get California residents collectively to replace 50 million square feet of lawns with drought tolerant landscape.
▪ Creates a statewide rebate program to encourage residents to buy new water-efficient appliances. ▪ Requires the State Water Resources Control Board to impose restrictions that will cut statewide urban water use 25 percent compared with 2013.
▪ Calls for urban water agencies to create rate structures, fees and penalties that encourage residents to use less water.
▪ Requires agricultural water suppliers to submit detailed drought management plans
Agriculture and economic impacts
Water scarcity is forcing some California farmers to spend large sums of money to keep their crops irrigated and growing. For example, almond trees need water all year. And the lack of water is also affecting the value of some farm land.
"You're already seeing banks wanting to know where the water comes from before they make loans," Modesto-area walnut and almond grower Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, told the Modesto Bee last month.
Why should non-Californians care about the drought? The answer is the majority of fruits, vegetables and nuts supplied to the United States and beyond come from California. And this is nothing new except when the supply drops in California, the price goes up in every state in the nation.
California produces 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots—see complete list here.
The climate and soil conducive to growing produce is unequaled in the US. No other state, or even a combination of states, can match California’s output per acre. Lemon yields in California, for example, are more than 50 percent higher than in Arizona. California spinach yield per acre is 60 percent higher than the national average.
Without California, supply of all these products in the United States and abroad would dip, and in the first few years, a few might be nearly impossible to find. Orchard-based products in particular, such as nuts and some fruits, would take many years to spring back.
The drought in California will have global repercussions when acres of farm land must go fallow and production is reduced. Providing fresh produce and nuts is more important than watering a massive lawn, but Californians will not be receiving any subsidies to replace lawns with rock or drought-tolerant landscapes. I already let my lawn die last year, and the yard looks horrible. To rock all of the lawn area could cost $1,000, so for now I will follow the restrictions and not water. It’s the new normal, but it’s going to take a while to develop new gardening strategies in the Golden State.
California’s nickname as the Golden State—referring to sunshine-- is going to take on a whole new meaning. The hills, lawns, and landscapes will be “golden,” instead of the luscious green to which we have become accustomed.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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