California Energy Commission Takes Step to Save California Billions of Gallons of Water

California Energy Commission takes step to save California billions of gallons of water. PHOTO: NOAACalifornia Energy Commission takes step to save California billions of gallons of water. PHOTO: NOAA

California is experiencing an epic drought … the worst in more than 1,000 years! And as we face a fourth consecutive year of drought—with no end in sight—that warrants bold and immediate action from the state.

California Energy Commission takes step to save California billions of gallons of water. PHOTO: NOAA

California Energy Commission takes step to save California billions of gallons of water. PHOTO: NOAA

While our state leaders can’t make it rain, there’s a lot they can do to save water and ensure that Californians can also weather the next drought. For example, the California Energy Commission (CEC) stepped up to save Californians billions of gallons of water.

In a meeting, the CEC took emergency action to ensure that the toilets, urinals and faucets sold in California will be the most water-efficient in the country.

According to the CEC, the new standards for kitchen and bathroom faucets, urinals, and toilets will reduce California water use by more than 100 billion gallons of water per year, once the current stock of products is turned over. To put that into perspective, we’ll be saving three times the amount of water used by the city of San Francisco every year! The first year savings are expected to be around 10 billion gallons.

The action taken by the CEC today is unprecedented—no other state has adopted standards that are more efficient than those set by EPA’s WaterSense program (the WaterSense program sets national voluntary standards for water-efficient products similar to ENERGY STAR for energy-efficient products). However, the CEC unanimously voted that to set standards for urinals and residential lavatory faucets that go beyond WaterSense standards.

Next year, all urinals sold in California will use only 1 pint of water or less for each flush (the old standard was 1.0 gallons per flush, WaterSense is 0.5 gpf) and bathroom faucets will use no more than 1.2 gallons of water per minute (the old standard was 2.2 gpm, WaterSense is 1.5 gpm).

California is often the trendsetter when it comes to water and energy efficiency, and hopefully other states will follow California’s lead.

What does CEC’s Emergency Regulation mean for you? As of Jan. 1, 2016 all toilets, urinals, and faucets available for purchase in the state—both for homes and business—will be required to meet the new efficient standards. The Emergency Regulation also prevents stockpiling of older, less efficient models by retailers, as we have seen some do in the past just before new standards went into effect.

But the CEC’s Emergency Regulation does NOT require you to replace your inefficient plumbing fixtures. To encourage you to replace those water-guzzling products, the CEC is working on a rebate program to make the purchase of more efficient appliances more affordable.

Wondering what else can you do?

  • If you’re not in the market for a new faucet but still want to do your part, install a 1.0 gallon per minute faucet aerator on your bathroom faucet. Many water suppliers offer these aerators to their customers for free, simply check your water suppliers website.
  • For even more tips, check out NRDC’s Nine Ways to Save Water or my blog on innovative ways to reduce your water footprint.

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard.

Visit NRDCs Switchboard Blog

About the Author

Tracy Quinn
Tracy Quinn, P.E., joined Natural Resources Defense Council in the Santa Monica office in March 2011 as a Policy Analyst for the Water Efficiency Team. She has more than ten years of experience as an environmental scientist and engineer and her practice areas have included water resources planning and design, pollutant fate and transport, and industrial regulatory compliance.

1 Comment on "California Energy Commission Takes Step to Save California Billions of Gallons of Water"

  1. John Koeller | May 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm |

    The CEC, with their new regulations, only acknowledged what everyone already was practicing by complying with AB715 and the CalGreen code. To claim these particular CEC action items had anything whatsoever to do with dealing with drought misinforms the public and leads to false predictions of water savings. For example, toilet sales in California have been limited to 1.28 gallons per flush since January 1, 2014, over 15 months ago!! So, how can the CEC and NRDC claim fictitious savings for what Californians are already doing? The only area where the CEC can claim any hypothetical savings is for urinals, where they arbitrarily and without justification reduced the maximum flush volume of urinals from 1.0 gallon per flush in 2013 to 1 pint in 2016. No science, no field investigation, and no documented history of experience with 1 pint urinals installed in 50+ year old buildings. Can California building owners even imagine what will happen in 2019 when they are required by law to replace their old 1.5 and 2.0 gallon urinals with 1 pint urinals?

    In summary, the calculations of very large future ‘water savings’ (hundreds of billions of gallons!) take credit for actions that were already in place in California long ago and NOT the result of anything CEC did. The ‘savings’ credits for their actions are much much less than the highly exaggerated figures shown in this article and included in press releases from government agencies. Don’t believe the estimates!

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