SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) have submitted a report to the Legislature recommending that urban water suppliers achieve an indoor water use efficiency standard of 55 gallons per capita per day by 2023, declining to 47 gallons per day by 2025, and 42 gallons by 2030 and beyond. If adopted by the Legislature, the standards recommended by DWR and the State Water Board would be implemented at the water supplier level and would not apply to individual customers.
The report, required under water conservation legislation enacted in 2018 (Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606), is intended to inform the Legislature as it considers next steps to advance progressive and achievable indoor residential water use standards. The report notes that the current statewide median indoor residential water use is 48 gallons per capita per day, and that a quarter of California households already use less than 42 gallons per capita per day.
The 2018 legislation calls for urban water agencies to use a residential indoor standard, along with other water use efficiency goals, to calculate annual water use objectives for their service areas. The state standard, once adopted by the Legislature, will not apply to individual customers and would not, for example, limit people from taking showers, doing laundry, and washing dishes on the same day.
“These recommended standards help further proactive water conservation and drought planning, especially in the face of long-term climate impacts,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.
The recommendation follows the release of the Indoor Residential Water Use Study, authored by DWR, which reports that the current statewide median indoor residential water use is 48 gallons per capita per day, and that a quarter of California households already use less than 42 gallons. Indoor residential water use is expected to decline even in the absence of legislation lowering the residential indoor standard due to plumbing code requirements and more efficient appliances and fixtures being used in existing and new homes.
The recommended gradual decline in indoor residential water use over time would help ensure resilient water supplies as climate change intensifies drought cycles.
“Based on the most robust analysis of indoor residential water use in California to date, state water agencies have provided a recommendation that is both achievable and necessary,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel. “Residents and businesses alike can be more efficient to stretch our water supplies.”
For more information on the recommended indoor residential water use standard or published study, please visit DWR’s Water Use Efficiency webpage. For general information about conservation and urban water use, please visit the State Water Board’s Water Conservation Portal.