Water Rationing in California – How Could Such a Law Have Been Passed?

August 24, 2018

by Orlean Koehle State President of Eagle Forum of California and author of the book California’s Water Crisis, Do You Smell a Fish, and Karen Klinger, Eagle Forum Chapter Leader for Sacramento and Sacramento Republican Women Federated (SRFW) Education Chair.

Remember August 6, when President Trump tweeted about California’s devastating wildfires that are still continuing on in many places. He stated:

“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”

Of course, there was an immediate back lash from the leftist media that Trump had no idea what he was tweeting about. A statement in the Huffington Post appeared from Scott McLean, the deputy chief of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, who reported that “California has plenty of water to fight these wildfires.” He was referring to the many lakes and rivers that are being used for water to fight the Carr fire near Redding and the Mendocino Complex fire that was rapidly spreading all over Mendocino, Lake and Colusa Counties (which has turned out to be the largest fire in the history of our entire nation – burning over The Mendocino Complex, which includes both fires, is now at 410,482 acres and is 74 percent contained, as of August 22).  So what did McLean blame the fires on? Of course, man-made climate change. “It is our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires,” McLean said. He added that Trump dismisses it as “bulls–t” and “a Chinese hoax.”[1]

Whether you agree or disagree about man-made climate change, I think most Californians who have taken a good look at our forests lately would agree with what President Trump said about bad environmental laws that have had a devastating effect on our trees. Because of the “endangered spotted owl, which most forest experts agree was never endangered, foresters and loggers have not been allowed to remove thick underbrush or do any clear-cutting, or do very little logging period, consequently – a tinder box was just waiting to burst into flames across forested and wooded areas.

What Trump said about environmental laws allowing billions of tons of water to be diverted into the San Francisco Bay is also true. Why? to supposedly save the “delta smelt,” a tiny little three-inch bait fish that does not need saving. But, in spite of all that wasted water, McLean still made the important statement that “California has plenty of water.”

So, if California has plenty of water, why do we need a law that will now ration that water?  That does not make sense does it? But most of what happens with California legislation does not make sense unless you follow the money trail. On May 31, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Water Conservation Plan (AB 1668 and SB 606), which will greatly reduce and ration how much water all residents of California can use and will bring lots of money into the government coffers because of the fines for non-compliance, which the government is planning on.

According to the law, in 2022, all California residents will have to reduce our use of water to just 55 gallons per day per person for inside residential use. Gradually this will be reduced even more – down to 50 gallons by 2030. (Agriculture, commercial, and industrial will have different standards.)

According to the Sacramento Bee, May 31st article “Get Ready to Save Water,” the Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board will conduct studies and recommend standards on how much water we can use for outdoor use by October 2021. This legislation is to be “one size fits all,” but Karen Klinger, a resident of Sacramento and Chapter President of Eagle Forum of Sacramento, states, “This doesn’t fit for me. I have pets, a pool, a garden, a large lot with trees and plants, and I do not want to go to a desert-Arizona landscape. Is that what will be required of all of us in our future?”

How many gallons of water does the average person use per day? A reporter for the Sacramento Bee writes, “California residents used an average of 90 gallons of indoor and outdoor water per day in 2017, down from 109 gallons in 2013, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Water consumption typically climbs in the summer months and falls in the winter. Residents used an average of 65 gallons of water per day in March of this year compared to 120 gallons per day in July 2017, for example.”[2]

Karen Klinger states, “Reports show that washing dishes in the sink could use 27 gallons of water vs. the dishwasher 6 – 10 gallons; Average 8 minute shower 17 – 20 gallons; Bathtub 40 – 100 gallons; Washing Machine 40 gallons per load; and you haven’t even brushed your teeth, scrubbed the floor, cleaned the windows, washed your car, drank water, washed your hair, flushed the toilet, filled your pets water dish, washed their bedding, or given your pet(s) a bath, and what have I left out of this small list?”

Fines for Violation to be Placed on Water Agencies: According to what is written in the law, fines will not be imposed on individuals that use too much water. Instead, it is the water agencies that will be fined if their districts go over their rationed quota. The fines are presently $1,000 a day, but who says they could not be raised? After assuring people that “all they need to do is buy a new washing machine or change their shower heads,” the Sacramento Bee coyly mentions at the end of its article, “Sure, a district could pass those costs onto your water bill, but think dollars and cents instead of thousands out of your bank account.” How can the reporter for the Sacramento Bee predict what these costs are going to be, and how do the state legislators know when and how much of a drought we are going to have that these rationing restrictions are preparing us for?  Are they all looking into a fortune teller’s crystal ball?

If there is no shortage of water now and no drought going on in California now, then why are we supposed to think rationing our water is necessary? We are being told by our governor when he signed the bills into law, that this is “in preparation for the next drought and our changing environment.”

New Fines to Finance an Already Out of Control and Wasteful Government: The Sacramento Bee article adds that this new law will “give water districts more flexibility than the strict cuts mandated under Brown’s emergency drought order and will eventually allow state regulators to assess thousands of dollars in fines against jurisdictions that do not meet the goals.”

A Tax In Disguise: Columnist Tammy Bruce wrote an article on June 13 that appeared in the Washington Times, entitled “California’s new water rationing law is a tax in disguise, complete with fines.”  She stated, “If a family follows all the rules and rations their water use, they will still be fined or penalized based on what others in the district are doing.”  [It’s kind of like “socialized rationing.”]  Bruce added:

This is a new tax, plain and simple; the arrangement of a rationing law so absurd that it cannot be adhered to by most, guarantees the new cash flow into Sacramento. In other words, this scheme isn’t about water conservation or climate change. It’s about the state taking more of your money ostensibly for wasting water, an issue on which they are the most egregious offender.[3]

Bruce quotes Harmeet Dhillon, California attorney and Republican National Committeewoman from California, who had this to say about the shenanigans:

‘We are used to being conned with taxes hidden in ‘plans’ and ‘budgets’ and ‘goals’ every day in California — see our recent carbon tax in the guise of ‘cap and trade,’ the highest gas taxes in the nation, high tolls on the roads, and even a proposal by the governor to tax us per mile we drive. But even Californians inured to the rising tax burdens are beginning to fight back against our command economy overlords.’

Dhillon told how voters in Southern California in the recent June primary recalled — by a large margin — a newly elected Republican state senator who had voted to raise gas taxes on his car-loving constituents. She is hoping this will be a wave of the future that “legislators and bureaucrats who dare to impose higher taxes and penalties on ordinary citizens going about their business and utilizing a totally renewable resource — water — in a hygienic and responsible way — may find that it is the water police who get dunked this time around.”[4]

Could this Water Rationing Plan Become a Ruse for the Taking of Property?  Karen Klinger, who, among the many hats she wears is also a real estate agent, adds that she is worried that these fees could be based on a “tiered rate” according to how much property you own, or how large your home is. “You and I could be forced to pay double, triple, or even more taxation for exceeding our water limit.  I see this as another way for the State of California to take private property by Eminent Domain due to lack of funds owed by private property parcel owners.”

Don’t we have Water Rights and the right to “Due Process of Law”?  Klinger adds, “I believe these rights were stolen from us by the State of California. Will you take this sitting down or will you fight for your rights?

She adds, “If you don’t fight, what’s next – California Air Resources Board Chair, Mary Nichols forcing us to reduce our carbon footprint by setting a standard of how large of a home we can live in, what type of car we can drive, how many trips we can make by car or airplane to see relatives or for vacation, and replacing green grass with a desert landscape?  If you violate those standards, how many thousands of dollars will you be fined or forced to pay? This is another way for you to lose your home or other types of private property by not having sufficient funds to pay for violations to these Unknown Governments in the State of California.”

What Can We Do?  As Harmeet Dhillon suggests, we can “dunk” the state legislators at the ballot box who voted for such terrible, draconian bills and get them replaced with conservatives who still believe in property rights and water rights. Even democrats are angry about this legislation, and feel it is going way too far.  Hopefully, we can get them to vote against their democrat representatives who voted for these bills.  We can also try to get a conservative governor elected, such as John Cox, who would have never signed such legislation into law, and we can try to get a petition drive going so this will water rationing will be on the ballot box for Californians to vote on themselves, just as we are doing with the gas tax.  It will be on the ballot in the upcoming November election.


[1] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-wildfire-trump-tweet_us_5b685f22e4b0b15abaa5708a

[2] https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article211333594.html

[3] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/13/californias-new-water-rationing-law-is-a-tax-in-di/

[4] Ibid.