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State Agencies Take Aggressive Action to Curb Water Use Across California

For Immediate Release
February 6, 2014

Contact:
Brian Ferguson
(916) 376-5038

Sacramento, Calif. – Across California, state agencies and departments are taking immediate actions to curb water use at their facilities in response to the drought state of emergency declared by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The Governor's state of emergency declaration charged the Department of General Services (DGS) with "immediately implement(ing) water use reduction plans for all state facilities."

"Throughout state government, we are answering Governor Brown’s call to save water wherever we can,” said DGS Director Fred Klass. “DGS is leading water conservation efforts at our state-owned buildings."

Some immediate steps DGS has taken over the past few weeks include:

  • Drastically reduced or eliminated altogether water used in landscaping at DGS properties.
  • Shutting off water fountains and water features on state property, including the State Capitol grounds.
  • Instituting a moratorium on non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities.
  • Cancelling contracts for water intensive-window washing at state facilities.
  • Eliminating all car washes in the state garage other than those required for safety.
  • Issuing guidance through the Division of the State Architect to nearly 1,200 school administrators on best practices for conserving water at K-12 schools and community college campuses.
  • Sending letters to the scores of landlords from whom the state leases facilities requesting they take water reduction actions.
  • Placing signage in state buildings to remind tenants and visitors of the urgent need to save water.

These actions are part of a larger water conservation effort undertaken by state agencies and departments that manage facilities throughout California. Examples of other water conservation work now underway include:

  • The Department of Transportation will cut water usage by as much as 50 percent along California roadways, starting with regions most impacted by the drought while also expanding its utilization of smart irrigation technologies.
  • The Department of Transportation will cut water usage by as much as 50 percent along California roadways, starting with regions most impacted by the drought while also expanding its utilization of smart irrigation technologies.
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has banned watering of lawns at its facilities and is washing state vehicles only when necessary for health and safety or to prevent the spread of invasive species.
  • The California Department of Food and Agriculture has ceased landscape irrigation at its facilities and is using an efficient power washer for biosecurity of certain vehicles.
  • CAL FIRE has stopped washing fire trucks and other vehicles except to maintain public safety and operational standards.
  • The California Environmental Protection Agency has installed sub-meters throughout their building to monitor, curb and redirect water use where appropriate, in addition to using low-flow faucets, toilets, urinals and shower heads.
  • The California Highway Patrol has invited DGS to identify short term improvements and develop long term water conservation plans at the Academy campus.
  • The Department of Parks and Recreation has shut down outdoor showers at the Lake Perris State Recreation Area and Hearst Castle’s leaky Neptune Pool is no longer being refilled and pool water is being directed to landscaping needs.
  • The Department of Water Resources has accelerated the replacement and upgrade of plumbing fixtures to low flow fixtures, replaced water-intensive landscaping with drought-tolerant plants and rocks and replaced or upgraded older, inefficient cooling systems that use large amounts of water.

With California facing its driest year on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency last month and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. Governor Brown spoke with President Obama last week about crucial federal support during the ongoing drought, and the state continues to work with federal partners to ensure a coordinated drought response.

In January, the state took action to conserve water in numerous Northern California reservoirs to meet minimum needs for operations that impact the environment and the economy. Recently the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission restricted fishing on some waterways due to low water flows worsened by the drought. Last month, CAL FIRE hired 125 additional firefighters to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions, the California Department of Public Health identified and offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages and the California Department of Food and Agriculture launched a drought website to help farmers, ranchers and farmworkers find resources and assistance programs that may be available to them during the drought. Also last month, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and CDFA released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent, and the Save Our Water campaign launched four public service announcements encouraging residents to conserve. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights.

For more information on the increased fire threat and for steps to prepare for wildfires visit: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/

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