California Drought May Be Over, But Conservation Controversy Continues

State officials want a new conservation approach that imposes a “water budget” on millions of urban customers.
In particular, the State Water Resources Control Board needs legislative approval before it can tell water agencies how to set rates.
The budget approach assures that people who consume less water also pay less.
The framework also requires local agencies to adopt consistent water shortage contingency plans, which require certain conservation steps when a “Stage 1” or “Stage 2” drought is declared.
Most water agencies already have such plans, but they all have different conservation requirements.
This would allow state officials to declare a statewide “Stage 2” drought with predictable water savings as a result.
A handful of water agencies across the state have already adopted budget-based rates.
The district adopted budget-based water rates in 2011.
“With this budget approach, not only do they have clarity in what they need to do, but it also gives them the choice,” Lopez said.
The region’s water agencies were required to impose conservation targets, which required some customers to let landscaping die.

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