California to finalize biggest water consumption cuts in history

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- In Sacramento, the State Water Resources Board is finalizing the biggest cuts in water consumption in California history.

The state wants a 25 percent cut in usage, compared with two years ago.

Some water districts have done a decent job, others not so much. Now they are going to pay with even bigger cuts.

It was April 1 that Governor Jerry Brown stood on a patch of dry Sierra Mountain grass that should have been covered in snow and made a statement that would alter the way Californians use their water.

"We're in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action," Gov. Brown said.

And not baby steps -- painful ones, as evidenced by this public hearing by the California State Water Resources Board, which must immediately reduce water use.

Now representatives of California water districts face mandatory reductions of 36 percent, in some cases.

"Going down to one day a week of watering, we will see brown lawns, vegetation dying," one boardmember said.

The California Water Resources Board is about to put these cuts in writing.

"There are a lot of factors that influence water use. Income is one, lot size, also climate," senior scientist Max Gombeck said.

Gombeck is the scientist and architect of this plan that reduces water use across the state based on last summer's reductions.

In the Bay Area, San Franciscans did such a good job that they need to cut only 8 percent more. Santa Rosa, Berkeley and Mountain View will need to cut 16 percent, with San Rafael, Sonoma, Concord, San Jose and others having to cut 20 percent.

The most severe cuts, Rio Vista and Discovery Bay, are at 36 percent.

Local agencies bear the burden of enforcement, or they face fines of $10,000 a day.

"It is the state plus the regional entities plus the locals. It is achievable," Gombeck said.

The state wants those cuts beginning this month. In short, California water users haven't seen anything yet.

For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve water. To learn more about how to report water wasters #WhereYouLive, click here.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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