Ten months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Californians to voluntarily cut water consumption by 15 percent. But that goal remains far off — water use has come down less than 4 percent — and the state’s drought has only been getting worse.
So state officials on Tuesday adopted emergency regulations aimed at delivering the most drastic statewide cuts to address the drought thus far.
The rules require local water agencies to reduce water use by up to 20 percent and prohibit any watering of ornamental lawns at businesses and other commercial properties. Officials earlier this year announced penalties for watering yards after a rainstorm.
The latest measures are part of an effort to push water suppliers toward what’s “going to be needed in this new normal,” said Laurel Firestone, a California State Water Resources Control Board member.
“We are in this unprecedented drought. We need to act like it,” Firestone said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Newsom warned that without significant reductions this summer, the state could enact even more cuts. In the previous drought, Jerry Brown, the governor at the time, ordered a mandatory 25 percent across-the-board reduction in urban water use.
“California is facing a drought crisis and every local water agency and Californian needs to step up on conservation efforts,” Newsom said in a statement on Tuesday. “We all have to be more thoughtful about how to make every drop count.”
What exactly are the new regulations?
Two main provisions will most affect Californians:
The rules ban anyone from irrigating ornamental lawns at commercial and industrial properties with potable water. That doesn’t include your house’s yard, parks or sports fields, but it does include decorative turf at businesses and in common areas of housing subdivisions.
Second, each local water supplier must, by June 10, adopt rules aimed at cutting water usage by 10 to 20 percent. I’ll explain how that could play out below.
What new rules will my local water agency implement?
Most local water suppliers have contingency plans for water shortages, devised to account for up to six levels of action depending on the severity of the shortage.
Water regulators are calling for suppliers to adopt Level 2 of the plan, which is intended for a shortage of 10 percent to 20 percent. Actions could include limiting landscape irrigation to two days a week, requiring covers for pools and allowing restaurants to serve water only upon request.
Exactly which restrictions will be implemented in your city depend on what your local supplier has laid out in its plan.
Whom do the rules affect?
Before the new regulations were adopted on Tuesday, about half of California’s population was under water restrictions implemented by local agencies, according to the governor’s office.
These include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s recent sweeping limits on outdoor watering and the city of Healdsburg’s ban on irrigating yards. Also on Tuesday, officials in Santa Clara County announced fines of up to $10,000 for wasting water.
With the latest statewide mandates, every urban area throughout the state will be covered by a local plan for reducing water use. In other words, if you haven’t felt any cuts yet, you will soon.
The latest on the Texas shooting
- The latest on the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for gun safety laws.
- Spurred by the shooting, California senators approved giving people the power to sue those who traffic in illegal firearms. The bill moves to the Assembly.
The rest of the news
- Monkeypox: A Sacramento County resident who recently traveled to Europe is believed to have California’s first reported case of monkeypox, The Associated Press reports.
- Medical malpractice payouts: A longstanding $250,000 limit on damages for pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice will be lifted next year, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- Supervised injection sites: California lawmakers are debating whether to open sites where people can inject or snort illegal drugs under the supervision of a health care worker, NPR reports.
- Los Angeles mayor’s race: Ramit Varma has dropped out of the race and is instead endorsing Rick Caruso, The Los Angeles Times reports.
- U.C.L.A. sexual abuse payout: The U.C. system announced that it will pay nearly $375 million to more than 300 women who said they were sexually abused by a U.C.L.A. gynecologist, The Associated Press reports.
- Animals of Los Angeles: The amazing story of Reggie, the city’s celebrity alligator, from The Los Angeles Times.
- Affordable housing crisis: As Fresno tries to manage a housing crisis, a corporate owner moves in. Read more from PBS News Hour.
- Denied communion: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on the decision by San Francisco’s Catholic archbishop to deny her communion over her support of abortion rights, The Associated Press reports.
- Most childless city in the nation: These maps from The San Francisco Chronicle show which neighborhoods in San Francisco have the fewest kids.
What we’re eating
This weeknight ribollita is a great way to use up leftover vegetables.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Allen Pham, who recommends visiting Guerneville on the Russian River:
“Every summer, we head north to spend a few days around Guerneville, located in Sonoma County. Escaping the noisy city, we immerse ourselves in the peace and tranquillity provided by the Russian River, among the redwoods. There are plenty of things to do, but the main attraction has to be the river.
Our first stop is always on the main street, River Road, where you’ll find an array of food and supplies. Pop into Stumptown Brewery to grab a drink with a front-row seat of the river.
Next, we head over to Johnson’s Beach, or the less crowded Monte Rio, where we’ll find the perfect spot to set up. The river continues for miles, and each bend reveals a different story. You’ll experience everything from families of ducks on their search for food, to kids on their first kayaking lesson, and groups of friends enjoying their time together. The draw of the river brings people of all walks of life on a hot, sweltering day.
I can’t think of anything else that represents summer more than the calm bliss that washes over you as you’re drifting down the Russian River.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
Henderson Moore Blumer and Suzanne Zoe Joskow started off as classmates, with studios down the hallway from each other at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
They became sounding boards for each other as fellow artists. They gathered with friends at Tattle Tale, a dive bar near campus. On their own, they explored local architecture and drove around to estate sales.
Despite their increasing closeness, it came as a surprise when, after a reception following Blumer’s solo show at a gallery in Long Beach, they shared their first kiss.
“Both of us were smiling, but stunned because of the friendship,” she said. He was also still unsteady after his recent divorce.
So they kept things platonic. At least for the next few months.
Read the rest of their love story in The Times.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “___ So Vain” (5 letters).
Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].
The post California Approves New Water Restrictions Amid Worsening Drought appeared first on New York Times.