As the State Legislature passed a budget overflowing with an unprecedented surplus, the state’s water reservoirs have an unprecedented deficit. Due to the current drought conditions and historically low water reserves, the Governor has already issued two emergency proclamations to address and prepare certain regions of the state for extremely dry conditions for the foreseeable future. The first of these proclamations covers the North Coast and Marin Peninsula, fed by the Russian River Watershed. The second proclamation covers the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and Tulare Lake Watershed counties. On June 15, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB or Board) approved an emergency regulation to curtail the diversion of water to address severe water shortages in the Russian River Watershed.
In the resolution, which lays out the background and reason for the emergency regulations, the SWRCB indicated that using water for agricultural purposes is an unreasonable use of water, in the light of current water supply issues and state law specifying that domestic use is the highest priority of water use over that of irrigation. To further highlight that domestic use has a higher right to water than agriculture, the Board resolution states the emergency regulations are to “prevent the waste, unreasonable use, unreasonable method of use, or unreasonable method of diversion, of water” and “to require curtailment of diversions when water is not available under the diverter’s priority of right.”
Ultimately, this resolution and the resulting emergency regulation may halt diversions for agriculture, specifically wineries and vineyards, for up to 2,400 of the region’s water rights holders. This is a significant concern for a large portion of an industry that contributes $43.6 billion in retail value to California. The Board’s rationale for curtailing diversions for agriculture in circumstances where water storage levels within the Russian River Watershed may be drawn below a specific amount relies on provisions of the state Constitution and statutes specifying priority for the health and safety of humans, and the protection of environmental habitats and resources over agricultural and irrigation rights.
This implementation of the Board’s interpretation of water rights and the severity of California’s drought situation does not bode well for the pool and spa industry in California. Although the Board’s emergency regulation is limited to the Russian River Watershed service areas, the projections for extremely dry weather throughout the West will certainly cause the Governor to expand the drought proclamations. Any expansion of drought proclamations will likely also cause city councils to be much more conservative relative to providing exemptions to a city’s contingent emergency water conservation plans. Some of these city conservation ordinances prohibit the filling or topping off of swimming pools and spas when the target for water conservation exceeds 20%.
“You can see the situation where city council members says, if using water is an unreasonable use for agriculture, why should we allow it to fill a new swimming pool,” said John Norwood, CPSA’s chief lobbyist. The swimming pool and spa industry has about a $5 billion economic impact on the California economy, where agriculture in the state represents an economic impact many times that amount.
CPSA continues to monitor and address the drought issue. We held a Virtual Town Hall last week. If you weren't able to attend, you can watch the recording here. We have also created a Drought Resource Toolkit that includes a call to action, flyers for customers, and sample letters you can send to your city council when they are deliberating emergency drought actions. You can also download this zip file of water-wise infographics to use on your company's social media accounts.
Both the U.S. Department of Energy Dedicated Purpose Pool Pump rule and the California Energy Commission pump and replacement motor rules went into effect this past Monday, July 19. PHTA has compiled resources on both items, including:
The World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC) is the industry's leading educational conference on aquatics. Celebrating its 18th year, WAHC 2021 will continue the tradition of disseminating cutting-edge science relevant to all segments of the pool and spa market. Join us on October 13-15 to experience aquatic research presented by industry experts across the globe and network with like-minded professionals, industry leaders, and experts. This year's keynote presentation will be given by Paralympian Jessica Long, who will be competing in Tokyo later this summer. Learn more and register here.
Are you planning to be an exhibitor at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo (PSP/DeckExpo) in November? CPSA and PHTA members receive a 15% discount on booth space. Contact the PHTA Member Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for your membership number prior to reserving space to apply your member discount.
CPSA Webinar: How to Protect Your Pool Industry Business and Its Equity Right Now
World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC)
International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo (PSP/Deck Expo)
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