The San Diego County Water authority raised the San Vicente Dam to increase local water storage. Photo courtesy of the water authority

By Marie Waldron

So can you live on 55 gallons of water a day? No one can. But legislation just enacted broadens authority of the state Water Resources Control Board, an unelected, unaccountable board to require this.

The new mandates establish an indoor water use budget of 55 gallons per day for all Californians until 2025, reduced to 50 gallons/day after 2030. Civil penalties apply to water districts that are unable to meet the new guidelines. I opposed both Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668, which created these regulations.

It’s all so unnecessary. San Diego County has largely divorced itself from Northern California water, Over the last 5 years 72 percent of our water has come from the Colorado River, and another 15 percent from local sources, including reclamation and desalination.

Unfortunately, the state’s new mandates will discourage local conservation efforts. Why have we spent so much on water conservation if we still suffer the same penalties and restrictions as other regions that have made little effort to conserve?

Here’s just one example of why one-size-fits-all water policies don’t work. According to Gary Arant, general manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, water consumption in Valley Center has already decreased 59 percent since 2007, yet the new regulations require even deeper cuts.

Upfront costs to implement the new measures could be as high as $6 million, with an additional $1.6 million spent annually in labor and administrative costs. This represents an ongoing 15 percent increase in the district’s operating budget, costs that will be passed along in customer’s water bills. Similar costs will affect most water districts.

Our water problems are the result of political decisions that have prevented construction of additional storage reservoirs. I am working on bi-partisan legislation to increase access to reclaimed water for agriculture and increase water storage in our state and region.

Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron represents the 75th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.