Drought Preparedness and Water Conservation
Last Update: March 9, 2009
To address current drought and water shortage problems (see the Governor's February 2009 Proclamation and the June 2008 Executive Order and Central Valley Emergency Proclamation) and the Governor’s goal of achieving a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use statewide by the year 2020 (see February 2008 press release and letter), CDPH's Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management has developed and implemented activities by its Drinking Water Program staff that address these issues and contribute to the stated goal of improved water conservation.
California is faced with increased water demands due to population growth and economic development at a time when the stresses on the available water supplies are increasing. Current drought conditions, climate change factors that may adversely affect water supply availability, environmental constraints on surface water delivery systems, and new water quality standards are all resulting in less water and/or more expensive measures needed to assure a safe and reliable drinking water supply at an acceptable water pressure. Assuring a safe drinking water supply, as well as water for domestic uses such as sanitation and personal hygiene, is the goal of these program modifications.
To assure that all public water supply systems are taking the steps needed to protect and conserve the States drinking water supply resource, CDPH's Drinking Water Program is implementing the following measures. These measures are designed to elevate the need to conserve water as an important programmatic goal in addition to the current efforts to assure that all water supplies are safe and reliable.
1. All public water supply systems are encouraged to keep records of their water system production and delivery activities through metering at the source and at customer connections.
2. All public water supply systems are also encouraged to adopt metered water rates that reflect the full cost of the water production and delivery and which encourage customers to minimize water use through progressively increasing water rates or other measures that penalize excessive water use.
3. All public water supply systems that do not have customer meters and effective metered rates are encouraged to take the steps needed obtain the funds needed to install meters and adopt effective metered rates. Such water systems are also encouraged to adopt water conservation plans that minimize waste. Such plans should include voluntary and/or mandatory schedules for landscape irrigation, prohibitions on “gutter flooding”, and may include restrictions on car washing and other uses if a severe water shortage is anticipated.
4. All public water supply systems requesting funding from infrastructure funding programs such as the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund and from Proposition 84 and Proposition 50 are encouraged to implement effective water conservation measures. If appropriate and necessary to preserve or attain sufficient water system capacity, the Department will provide funding for water meters as part of these projects.
5. All public water supply systems are encouraged to regularly conduct evaluations of the water losses in their delivery systems. The difference in water produced versus the water sold to customers should be tabulated and tracked at least on an annual basis. This information should be used to identify badly worn transmission and distribution system pipelines and storage facilities, which contribute to water loss.
6. Letters with advice and guidance on measures that can and should be taken to address water system conservation and drought contingency planning have been sent to all public water systems with special emphasis on the smaller systems that have fewer resources to address these issues. See text of letter (PDF)
7. Public water systems that face long-term water shortages are encouraged to explore longer-term management actions that conserve water and minimize drought impacts. These may include increased use of recycled water for non-potable uses, developing new sources by reverse osmosis treatment of saline water supplies, and providing incentives for conversion to drought-tolerant landscaping (e.g., “cash-for-grass” programs).
Annual Reports from Public Water Systems
CDPH requires public water systems under its jurisdiction to submit annual reports on their operations. The reports for 2008 will include the following information (click here to access the online annual report):
1. Data on the adequacy of the system’s water supply capacity (e.g., depth to groundwater in wells, reservoir storage capacity, treatment plant or well production, treatment plant waste residual losses, water sales, etc.).
2. Data on water losses from the system (e.g., water production vs. water usage, results of leakage studies).
3. Data on water rates and usage, including data on the rate structure used to bill customers, the average water bill paid by system customers, average water use by different types of customers, and, the range of monthly bills the public water system has charged its customers.
4. Descriptions of water conservation efforts undertaken by a public water system.
Please click on the link to go to the online survey and complete the information requested: 2008 Drinking Water Annual Report for Public Water Systems, Part A - Drought, Usage and Emergency Information. If you would like to print out a blank survey form first, fill it in, and then go online to complete the survey, you can download a blank form by clicking on the above link, find the link and save a copy which will open a form, then select FILE, then SAVE AS, and point to a place on your own PC to save a BLANK copy of the survey.
In addition, information on water system budgets, including capital reserve funds that are to be available for system upgrades and emergency repairs will be stressed in the Technical Managerial and Financial (TMF) requirements.
Water Systems at Risk
Follow this link for CDPH's compilation of public water systems vulnerable to drought (Excel).
Other Sources of Information
The Association of California Water Agencies has information on its members' activities related to water conditions around the state
The California Department of Water Resources' website has information on current water conditions in California and water conservation.