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UPDATED November 2017

Conservation, Regulation, and
the Future of California Water Management

As we gear up for what we hope will be a rainy winter, we wanted to bring you up to speed on the latest state and local regulations and proposals regarding water use and management practices. While the drought may officially be over, the long-term policy changes emerging as a result of this long, dry spell are just beginning.

The Local Perspective

During the drought, our Board enacted various stages of the district's water supply shortage emergency plan, and customers significantly reduced their usage throughout the district. While we no longer have those drought restrictions in place, our commonsense water use prohibitions are always in effect; see them here. Even without onerous restrictions, our customers are still using water efficiently: usage is down 15 percent overall compared to 2013.

What's on the way for water restrictions/conservation mandates in 2018?

The roadmap for water management in California at this point stems from the "Making Conservation as a Way of Life" Report the State issued earlier this year. The findings in the report will be developed over the coming months and years through the legislative process and other means.

One significant component of the new framework is the provision that, by the end of 2018, the state anticipates providing each urban water agency with a “water use target” composed of residential indoor water use, outdoor irrigation water use, and a water loss budget. This doesn’t mean that every residential customer in the state will be on a budget-based rate, but rather that each agency will be responsible for figuring out how to stay within their prescribed water budget. Some agencies already have switched to budget-based rates, but Camrosa does not anticipate taking that step. Unfortunately, the agency budgets do not include any credits for local supplies—something Camrosa customers have invested in heavily over the last two decades. We’re continuing to push for better understanding and recognition of this at the State level.

Commercial/industrial/institutional water users will be subject to a number of “performance measures” under the new framework to encourage conservation. Read the full report here.

Will my rates go up as a result of this new plan?

It's too early to say. But there are some proposals currently in the works at the state level, unrelated to the new framework, that could mean higher water bills. See our page, "Tracking the Taxes" to learn more about these potential new rate-hikers and how we at Camrosa are doing what we can to stop them.

And while we don’t currently receive any credit for local supplies under the water agency budget framework, ratepayer investment in those supplies does continue to keep our rates low; because local supplies are much cheaper to produce than the cost of imported water, increasing the percentage of our portfolio that’s produced locally benefits water rates.

It seems that the terms “conservation” and “water use efficiency” are used to mean the same thing. What’s the difference?

While the State does often conflate the two terms, there are some significant differences between them—at least in Camrosa’s view.

"Conservation” is a tool used for periods of limited water supply. The most recent drought, when water was becoming increasingly scarce, is an example of when conservation was employed. This emergency situation required a short-term response through mandatory cutbacks, leading to extraordinary sacrifices on the part of our customers. “Efficiency,” on the other hand, is a sustainable approach to using the water that you need in a wise manner. Overall, it’s good stewardship on a long-term basis that doesn’t demand drastic lifestyle changes that are not maintainable.

What do we do now?

While customers don’t necessarily need to practice the drastic conservation measures that they did during the drought, long-term water use efficiency remains important for our district. We're here to help support you in those efforts through various programs, workshops and products. Visit our Customer Education page to learn more about opportunities to increase your water use efficiency.

Camrosa supports water use efficiency at all times,
and conservation measures when circumstances dictate.


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