Mandated Water Usage Reduction

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 15, 2008

This year, Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) introduced AB 2175, Water Conservation, initially as a four-page bill directing the Department of Water Resources to establish numeric water conservation targets, make available information on technically feasible measures and list efficient agricultural water management practices.  Amendments have taken the bill to 21 pages and do not deal equitably with water conservation in commercial, industrial or institutional sectors.

Water conservation is a complex subject in California’s industrial and manufacturing sector and cannot be approached successfully with the same methods that are applied to efficiency and conservation in the residential sector.  Water is a costly raw material for businesses that must use it; an input that directly affects the bottom line.  Every water-using business in California has strong incentives to conserve and make its water use more efficient through cost-effective and technologically feasible improvements.

AB 2175 uses an arbitrary method for determining the efficiency of commercial, industrial and institutional water use.  The amount of water delivered to factories, restaurants, stores, hospitals, etc. is divided by the number of residents in the district.  This may make sense for residential efficiency but makes no sense for other classifications.  It penalizes those water customers who have already taken significant proactive steps to reduce their consumption. 

In addition, manufacturers in particular pay significantly more for water.  They use water to make or process the goods that they produce.  Further reductions are likely to not be cost-effective and as such could make the company less competitive in the national and international market, unable to expand and more likely to contemplate moving to another state.

AB 2175 is currently on the Senate Floor.  If passed, it will need to go back to the Assembly for concurrence.  If this bill could hamper your operations, we urge you to let your Legislators know. 

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