Ag Today, March 16, 2018

Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks

BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW-The Sacramento Bee

March 15, 2018 12:46 PM

Updated March 16, 2018 06:14 AM

It seemed like the sort of thing any drought-wary Californian could support.

The state’s water cops were poised last month to pass a set of rules prohibiting what most everyone agrees are wasteful water uses –like letting water from a hose without a nozzle flow into a storm drain.

But no change in California water policy ever comes easily. The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to impose permanent conservation rules – such as prohibiting hosing down driveways, watering lawns less than two days after it rains and washing a car without attaching a shut-off nozzle to the hose – ran into a cascade of opposition. Leery of ceding any power to the state, practically every major water agency in California, from Sacramento to San Diego, stepped up to complain the water board was overstepping its legal authority.

The board postponed its vote.

The controversy comes at a delicate time. Eleven months after Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to the drought, water usage is starting to creep back up in California: Urban consumption increased 5 percent last year as mandatory conservation restrictions were lifted, although usage was still 16 percent below the 2013 baseline figures used by the state water board.

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