The misconception that California residents will be fined $1,000 this year if they shower and do laundry on the same day just isn’t true.
In 2018, two laws were passed that strengthened California’s continual efforts to make water conservation a way of life. The laws emphasize efficiency and stretching water supplies in residential and agricultural usage. Here are some facts from the California Department of Water Resources:
Do the 2018 water conservation laws set limits on personal water use?
No. These laws establish mandates for water budget planning and efficiency objectives for water suppliers, not individuals, homeowners, or businesses.
Will residents be fined $1,000 for using more than 55 gallons of water per person, per day?
No. The laws do not establish any water use fines on customers, nor do they impose fines on individuals.
Do I have to choose between showering or doing laundry on the same day?
No. You are still encouraged to shower and wash your clothes in the Golden State, and even to wash children, pets and dishes. Though there are some easy ways you can take part in making conservation a way of life when using water at home – check out some water saving tips and tricks at saveourwater.com
Where do these rumors come from? On December 31 2019, KTLA television in Los Angeles broadcast a segment on its morning show about new California laws taking effect in 2020. Southern California lawyer Richard Lee was a guest on the program and repeated the claim that Californians could be fined $1,000 for showering and washing clothes on the same day.
Following the KTLA broadcast, the rumors appeared on blogs and social media before the station took down the video, saying “A video previously embedded in this post included factual errors about two laws going into effect in 2020 regarding water conservation. The clip has been removed.“
In 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1668 and SB 606, which set water efficiency standards for utilities to follow in the years to come. The bills say indoor water use needs to be reduced to an average of 55 gallons per person per day by 2023.
According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average American’s eight-minute shower uses 17 gallons. Older washing machines will use approximately 40 to 45 gallons, while modern high-efficiency models only use 14 to 25 gallons.
However, 55 gallons is a target that water districts will have to meet across their entire ratepayer base, as part of a broadly defined water budget strategy that includes both indoor and outdoor use. Water districts — not individual customers — could be fined if they don’t hit the targets.
In California, outdoor use accounts for the majority of the total residential consumption. The State and local water agencies will set limits over the next two years on how much water can be used to water lawns and fill swimming pools.
The outdoor standards will vary wildly from district to district. The laws allow for places such as Rio Linda, which has large yards and hot, dry summers to use more water outdoors than in an area such as Bodega Bay, which is part of a cooler, wetter coastal region. Leaky infrastructure is also a large part of the legislation. Old and failing pipes and water mains account for millions of gallons of wasted water throughout the state.
All of those factors will be built into a water district’s goals across the entire ratepayer base. By 2027, local water districts will have to meet these goals or theoretically could get fined by the state up to $1,000 per day or $10,000 per day during an official drought emergency.
Individual ratepayers, however, wouldn’t get any fines issued by the state. The district would. Individual ratepayers could see higher water bills as a result, obviously, but nobody will be receiving a $1,000 fine for showering and doing laundry on the same day.
The 55-gallon per person per day target shouldn’t be difficult to meet. Indoor water use across California has continued downward for years as people replace aging toilets, faucet heads and water-using appliances like dishwashers with high-efficiency models when old ones wear out.
Many California cities are already using less than 55 gallons indoors. The Pacific Institute estimates that Californians currently are using about 51 gallons, per person, each day.
Rio Linda Elverta Community Water District’s General Manager Tim Shaw has reached out to Rio Linda Online to encourage our community’s ratepayers to call the district for answers to your questions about the State’s new water conservation laws.
The Rio Linda Elverta community owns and operates our water agency. The employees and management are eager to answer your questions, and stem the tide of wild speculation and just plain untruths that tend to be posted online where there is no personal responsibility to the truth.
To contact the RLECWD, call 916-991-1000.
The RLECWD website is at http://www.rlecwd.com, and the Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/Rio-Linda-Elverta-Communitys-Water-District-102975004451995/