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No, you're not going be fined for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day. A news story by a Los Angeles area television station and carried through the internet on New Year's Day wrongly stated just that as an effect of upcoming water efficiency laws.

KTLA has since taken that story down, but not before people across the state shared it, stating each person in the state could only use 55 gallons of water a day before being fined starting January 1.

On May 31, 2018, then Governor. Jerry Brown signed into law two bills that will require urban water providers throughout California to set new permanent water use targets for their service areas. They are Senate Bill 606 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 1668 (Friedman). Below are the facts of the bills released by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) on January 2, 2020 after the KTLA story broke:

- Water agencies are required to calculate a water efficiency standard for their entire service area annually based on indoor residential water use; outdoor water use; and commercial, industrial and institutional irrigation.

- The standard of 55 gallons per person per day for indoor residential water use is not intended as an enforceable standard for individuals. It is one of several elements used to calculate the overall efficiency standard for a service area.

- Individuals will not be responsible for State Water Resources Control Board fines. Instead, the State Water Board can fine water agencies up to $10,000 per day if the agency does not meet its cumulative standard.

- There is no law against showering and doing laundry on the same day. There are no specific statewide laws that require individual households to meet any specific targets. The targets will be set for an entire service area and are scheduled to go into effect in 2023.

In South Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) is going to be working on their water target once the metrics for outdoor water use and water loss are figured out by the state. The law goes into effect in 2022 and its framework includes:

1. Indoor residential water use of 55 gallons per person/day. The state is still trying to figure out how to address variances, such as water use by tourists. STPUD is involved with a workgroup with the state to ensure Tahoe’s concerns are addressed on this matter.

2. Outdoor residential water use. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is still trying to figure out how to calculate irrigable area per water district. The current proposal uses aerial imagery and software to determine irrigable area. They used South Lake Tahoe as a pilot area this summer but the dense tree canopy made it very challenging to determine irrigable area from an aerial image. They are still trying to figure out how to calculate an outdoor water budget that will address all the different topography and climates throughout the state.

3. Set a standard for water loss due to leaks in the water system. STPUD is also on the state-wide workgroup trying to figure out this calculation.

These three variables will be added together to determine a water budget for each water district according to Shelly Thomsen, STPUD public affairs and conservation manager. Once a water budget is determined, each water district will figure out how to achieve these targets in their service area.

South Tahoe Public Utility District will continue to offer various rebates and services to help encourage water conservation. Water Districts, not individuals, who do not meet their targets can be fined by the State Water Board.

The state is still trying to figure out metrics for determining outdoor water use and water loss. STPUD is working with the DWR to ensure Tahoe’s concerns are incorporated in these decisions.

"Once these metrics are finalized, we will continue to work with our customers by offering conservation rebates and services to meet the targets," said Thomsen.

STPUD has a fact sheet on its website with more information on these bills

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