Over the last few years we’ve seen financial incentives have a huge impact on making sustainability appealing and accessible for a wide variety of property owners. For example, there is no doubt that California’s comprehensive tax credits and other incentive programs contributed to the boom in solar power over the last five years or so.
There are already many useful incentives to promote water conservation, both statewide and locally. But, as you’ll read below, years of drought and subsequent spikes in water rates have prompted some legislators at the capitol to look into new ways to further encourage wise water use.
Leading News from the Legislature
A new bill from Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) would exempt any local rebates, vouchers or other financial incentives for participating in a water efficiency or storm water improvement program from state or corporate income tax. “Water conservation shouldn’t be taxed,” Assemblymember Holden said in a statement. “We must do all we can to incentivize Californians to increase water efficiency in a state that is prone to chronic droughts.”
The bill, AB 533, is supported by the WaterNow Alliance and the California Water Efficiency Partnership. It was introduced in February and was recently referred to the Revenue and Taxation Committee of the Assembly.
Over in the Senate, Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has introduced a bill that is also meant to address the possibility of another ongoing drought, albeit in a completely different way. SB 332 seeks to incentivize recycling waste water to increase water supply reliability.
The bill would require communities along the coast to reduce the volume of wastewater discharged into the ocean and bays by a jaw-dropping 95 percent over the next 20 years. Water agencies could comply by both reducing indoor water use and by recycling water through advanced treatment.
Comprehensive water recycling programs are already in place in severalmunicipalities, but the bill would seek to get even more water districts on board with this safe and affordable water supply. Recycled water can be used for everything from irrigation to groundwater replenishment, leaving more fresh water for potable uses. The bill was introduced in February and was first heard in the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee April 3.
Smart Saver Tip of the Month
It’s estimated that up to 50 percent of outdoor irrigation is wasted. Smart sprinkler controllers can help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation and runoff by connecting with public weather information to automatically change irrigation settings based on what’s in the forecast. Most can be controlled through an app on your phone and can be configured based on your property’s landscaping, soil type, slope and more.
The devices can range from under $100 to over $200, depending on the breadth of features and durability. Many water agencies throughout California offer rebates on the devices as well.