Water guzzling cities looking at mandatory 35% cuts

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What’s the most equitable way to decide how much water California cities must conserve? The state Water Resources Control Board says it’s by looking at the recent water use history of those cities.

Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 percent reduction in urban water use – but getting to that target won’t mean uniform cuts across the state.

For example, folks in Los Angeles are reducing water use at a faster rate than people in Beverly Hills. And people in Bakersfield have been doing a poor job compared to residents of Santa Cruz.drought-tolerant-side-yard

Given those disparities, the state Water Board is floating a plan that would force cities that have been lagging to cut water use by up to 35 percent. Cities that have been conserving more water would face smaller cuts – just 10 percent in some cases. Most cities would be required to reduce water use by 20 to 25 percent.

The proposal comes as the latest report card on water conversation delivers a failing grade. The statewide savings in February was less than three percent compared to last year – and some areas in Southern California actually used more water this year.Marcus-11-e1426897208682

Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus says that just won’t do. “The message has to go out: ‘stop watering all the time.’” Marcus said. “As the temperature gets hotter and the months go on, we can’t afford to be watering our landscapes.”

Cities that would be hit with the steepest mandatory cuts under the Water Board plan include affluent communities like Beverly Hills and Newport Beach. But it’s a diverse list that also includes Bakersfield, South Pasadena and Hemet. Local water agencies would be required to enforce the cuts or face fines.

The Water Board is taking feedback on the plan and could vote on the new restrictions next month.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has compiled a list of some of the best and worst California cities when it comes to saving water.