California proposes a very flawed plan to "reduce" urban water use

California proposes a very flawed plan to "reduce" urban water use

A coalition of Federal and State agencies has released a draft report making recommendations on how California can reduce per capita urban water use by 20% by the year 2020. The result of the effort includes numerous recommendations on reducing per capita urban water use from a 2005 baseline of 192 gallons per day to a per capita water use of 154 gallons per day by 2020; there is an interim goal of 154 gallons per day by 2015. The plan allegedly represents a statewide savings of 1.74 million acre-feet from 8.7 MAF in 2005 to 7 MAF in 2020.
 
However, the plan has several major flaws. First, it covers only urban use (residential, commercial and industrial, and a category of use that falls into no specific category). Not covered by the plan is agricultural use, which constitutes the vast majority of California water use. Agricultural use is supposedly being covered by other planning mechanisms.
 
Second, there are several additional limitations:
• The plan addresses only potable water use. Non-potable recycled water was excluded to give credit to agencies that have promoted its use.
• The plan does not consider processes that covert a non-potable source into a potable source, such as desalination.
• The plan does not address water supplied by customers for their own use, such as the use of groundwater or graywater.
• The plan is intended only to reduce per capita water use; not total urban use. Depending on population growth, total urban use may actually increase despite the per capita reduction.
 
A copy of the draft plan and further information on the “20 x 2020 program” can be found at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/hot_topics/20x2020/index.shtml#may29.