President’s Message—“New Normal” is to Conserve Water

Between June 2015 and March 2016, Californians reduced water use by 23.9 percent compared with the same months in 2013 — saving enough water to provide 6.5 million Californians with water for one year, according to the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The severity of the drought has lessened in some parts of California. The Sierras in Northern California reported snowfall in late May. But we all know the drought is not over, especially in Southern California, and it is expected that droughts will be more frequent with lengthy periods of limited supply. Even as California’s surface lakes and underground basins begin to replenish with flows from Northern California’s winter storms, major watersheds are extremely strained and less reliable, water supplies are still scarce, seawater intrusion is becoming a greater problem in the Delta, and groundwater basins remain over-stressed. We know we will continue to feel the drought’s effects for years to come.

That is why early in May, Governor Brown issued an executive order to establish longer-term water conservation measures. These measures include permanent monthly water use reporting, new permanent water use standards and bans on practices that are clearly wasteful such as hosing off hard surfaces like sidewalks and driveways.

According to the governor, "Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before. But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life."

The executive order calls for long-term improvements to local drought preparation across the state. In addition, it directs the State Water Resources Control Board to develop proposed emergency water restrictions for 2017 if the drought persists.

According to the governor’s Water Action Plan 2016 Update, “There is broad agreement that the state’s water management system is currently unable to satisfactorily meet both ecological and human needs…” It goes on to say that it will require collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal governments and coordination among a wide range of industry, government and nongovernmental organizations to resolve the complex and expensive challenges before us.

Governor Brown’s Water Action Plan, a roadmap to sustainable water management, asks for all of us to conserve water and regulators to rebalance water rules. It points out that water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management be part of the mix, as well as investments in safe drinking water, the need for wetlands, and watershed restoration.

The “new normal” calls for Californians to make conservation a way of life. It is our actions and those of our legislators that will “set us on a path toward reliability, restoration, and resilience in California water.”

The following is a summary of the executive order issued by Governor Brown:

   •   Use Water More Wisely
   •   Eliminate Water Waste
   •   Strengthen Local Drought Resilience
   •   Improve Agricultural Water-Use Efficiency and Drought Planning

The full text of the executive order can be found here.

Find out how you can conserve water at