This water conservation plan is intended to bring the City of Clovis into alignment with the two new laws enacted by Governor Jerry Brown on May 31, 2018, AB1668 and SB606. This plan will work in conjunction with the current City of Clovis Urban Water Management Plan. The strategy herein is focused on how to reduce municipal water use by the specified 20% (urban per capita), which brings daily use down to 55 gallons per person per household through January 1, 2025. “This bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board, in coordination with the Department of Water Resources, to adopt long-term standards for the efficient use of water, as provided, and performance measures for commercial, industrial, and institutional water use on or before June 30, 2022.
The bill would require the department, in coordination with the board, to conduct necessary studies and investigations and make recommendations, no later than October 1, 2021, for purposes of these standards and performance measures. The bill would require the department, in coordination with the board, to conduct necessary studies and investigations and would authorize the department and the board to jointly recommend to the Legislature a standard for indoor residential water use.
The bill, until January 1, 2025, would establish 55 gallons per capita daily as the standard for indoor residential water use, beginning January 1, 2025, would establish the greater of 52.5 gallons per capita daily or a standard recommended by the department and the board as the standard for indoor residential water use, and beginning January 1, 2030, would establish the greater of 50 gallons per capita daily or a standard recommended by the department and the board as the standard for indoor residential water use. The bill would impose civil liability for a violation of an order or regulation issued pursuant to these provisions, as specified.”
This plan does not address the second portion of AB1668 “The bill would require the department, in consultation with the board, to propose to the Governor and the Legislature, by January 1, 2020, recommendations and guidance relating to the development and implementation of countywide drought and water shortage contingency plans to address the planning needs of small water suppliers and rural communities, as provided. The bill would require the department, in consultation with the board and other relevant state and local agencies and stakeholders, to use available data to identify small water suppliers and rural communities that may be at risk of drought and water shortage vulnerability, no later than January 1, 2020, and would require the department to notify counties and groundwater sustainability agencies of those suppliers or communities.” This portion of the new law is being worked on in conjunction with the Fresno Irrigation District, Fresno County, California Department of Water Resources, and the Kings River Conservation District as part of the Groundwater Sustainability Act (SGMA).
In order to attain the sustainable 20% reduction in daily household use inside of a very short time window this plan will target three areas of opportunity; Efficiency of water use/consumption, tiered water rates by private as well as commercial users, and public education/outreach.
1. The first identified area is the efficiency of water use and consumption by residential users. 54% of the water distributed by the City of Clovis is used by Single Family Homes followed by Commercial/Institutional at 16%, and Multi Family with 7%. Combined these three sub-groups account for 77% of the water use in the City.  Addressing the 75% of the use (stated above) will provide the largest gain in reduction to the new goal.
In order to reduce the consumption of water by Single Family (Multi-Family will be categorized with the Single Family) the City will need to further incentivize the use of low flow toilets and water efficient washing machines. These two items are the biggest users that can be upgraded, estimated at around 35 gallons per day (1/3 of the daily water use).  The current plan is not advertised, so making the public aware of the rebate as well as increasing the rebate amount will encourage the City’s population to make the change to water efficient devices. With the current plan residents can get up to a$50 rebate on water efficient washing machines and a $75 rebate for ultra-low flow toilets. Increasing these rebates by $25 each, bringing the rebate amount to $75 for washing machines and $100 for ultra-low flow toilets will help the home owners offset the cost and increase their return on the investment. This will also help reduce the total water consumption and help to get residents to the 55-gallon goal (AB1668). “I can save $140 per year by switching my house from 1980-1994 toilets to Water Sense toilets. In that case, it’ll take two years for the savings to cover the cost of a toilet.”  This exert was taken from a Washington Post article, with the rebate increase it helps drive the return for the homeowner down to around 1 year, hard to argue with the savings.
Outside irrigation, watering your lawn and garden, is the major driver in water use. “The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day, and about 30 percent of that is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens” and “The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day, and about 30 percent of that is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens.”  Increasing the Turf Rebate program maximum from $2000 to $2500 will guide homeowners toward a water efficient replacement. The increased cost from the additional funds in the rebate will be offset in the decreased water use. We can maintain our current watering schedule for simplicity. Reducing the 30% to 20% would have a water savings of 40 gallons per household each day.
Along with the Turf Rebate increase I would propose that we have the City Building Inspectors also act as the water enforcement team. The inspectors are randomly going throughout the city to perform the inspections. This would cover the missing code enforcement for the city. We don’t have to have fines attached but sending the homeowner a picture of the problem will help lead to solution.
2. The second area of opportunity the plan addresses our current water rate schedule. This schedule was update in 2016 when the first wave of laws was coming out, but it doesn’t take into account the new 55-gallon goal. The plan proposes that we go back to a 4-tier system with a base cost (tier 1) of $23 for 0-7,500 gallons of water used (monthly cycle). Tier 2 would not be 7,500-32,500 with a cost of $2 per thousand gallons used, Tier 3 is 32,500-65,000 at $2.55 per thousand gallons, and Tier 4 is 65,000+ increased to $3.25 per thousand gallons. This increase will help define new habits and change the publics perception about water. This will also drive the upgrades outlined in item 1. The third and possibly the most important issue this will address is the number 1 and 3 water consumption items, showers/baths. It is estimated that bathing uses 56 gallons per day.  That’s half your daily usage. To further reduce the wasted water during this time we could investigate the retrofit of hot water circulators to existing houses. This would eliminate the need to run the water while it warms up before taking a bath/shower.
This item will have 2 major hurdles to get through, there will be public resistance to the increase despite the need. This change will also have to be voted on by the City Council. Given that they are business minded people, they will understand the need to make the change. Without this item it will be very difficult to get the public to change its perception of water, ultimately effecting their water habits.
3. Lastly this plan would further the education with the general public. We currently have information available on the City’s website, and we have partnered with the Central Valley Water Awareness Committee. This plan would have us working with the Fresno Irrigation District and the City of Fresno to promote Public Service Announcements utilizing both television and radio to bring awareness to the rebate programs and why the newly implemented water restrictions are very important. This seemed to have an effect back during our last drought, with that still fairly fresh in the publics memory we can continue to build toward a water efficient public.
Another avenue that will provide future value will be working to partner with the Clovis Unified School District. Teaching children the value of water and how to make water conscious choices now will begin to setup good habits for their future, along with future generations (which will undoubtably have a more complicated water crises due to population increase). This re-education will also help to push parents who might not be concerned with water savings into a different thought process.
In summary these three identified areas of opportunity are critical to attain the 55-gallon goal. All three items are also related, each building from the other. The main driver will be the water schedule change, this will have an immediate effect on the consumers purchasing power. The rebates will help to offset the monthly increase and it will also help to force a new way to think about water and the importance of water efficiency.