audits, free conservation kits, and helpful conservation tips
and fact sheets.
• San Jose Water Company expanded its water audit program, which provides free water audits to single family,
multi-family, and commercial customers. The audits identify
leaks and inefficient plumbing fixtures and appliances, review irrigation schedules, check for broken sprinkler heads
and excessive runoff, and also install complimentary low-flow shower heads and aerators.
• Suburban Water Systems offered many ways for customers
to save water, including water-saving rebates on efficient
water-using appliances, free toilet replacements, and free
landscape workshops. Suburban holds customer-education
classes in March and August of each year, providing useful
water conservation information and advice.
Other efforts by IOUs include: social media posts highlighting water conservation tips; informational email blasts on the
new targets; postcards to high-water users; bill inserts; contests; workshops; and special advertising campaigns.
The State Board has recognized several IOUs as “stand out”
conservation leaders. For example, in May 2015, Cal Water’s
Bakersfield District achieved a 37 percent reduction, while at
the same time San Jose Water Company used 36 percent less
water, both compared to the benchmark year of 2013.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF CONSERVATION
Conservation had an impact on all water providers’ revenue streams throughout the state as diminished sales meant
reduced revenues. Public water agencies tapped into their
rate stabilization funds, but many were depleted, forcing
those agencies to raise rates.
Most IOUs utilized regulatory mechanisms to help cushion the blow from the mandatory reductions and minimized
rate increases. IOUs and the PUC implemented conservation-friendly policies well ahead of the drought emergency to
develop tools and procedures so that conservation could be
promoted without harming financial stability. Systems put
into place included: revenue adjustment mechanisms; conservation memorandum accounts; conservation loss revenues
memorandum accounts; and sales reconciliation mechanisms.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Although Northern California enjoyed a modest return to
normal precipitation in the winter of 2016, the drought continued into its fifth straight year, especially in Southern California.
Because of the changed conditions, including significant investments by many water utilities to improve their local water
supplies, the State Board decided in May 2016 to allow municipal water agencies and water IOUs to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability.
Water providers were required to certify sufficient supplies to
INNOVATIVE OUTREACH AND PROGRAMS
Each water provider developed its own means of meeting
the conservation targets. IOUs implemented a wide range of
efforts to educate their customers on the mandated targets and
provide them with resources and tools to reduce consumption.
• California American Water created a dedicated web page,
offering detailed information about rebates, water surveys
and water waste reporting, and drove customers to it using a dedicated mobile app, targeted advertising online and
in social media. The utility also embraced direct outreach to
customers, sending conservation teams to knock on doors in
high-water-using neighborhoods and hosting successful drive-through events to give away toilets, rain barrels and mulch.
• California Water Service added a turf replacement rebate
program and toilet delivery program to its existing conservation programs, and it expanded its water-use efficiency evaluations to commercial and industrial customers. The utility
sought and received grants from the Department of Water
Resources to expand its bathroom fixture replacement program in disadvantaged areas. It also engaged in more than
300 public outreach events, conservation gardening classes,
coffee roundtables, and focus groups; ramped up its educational advertising efforts; and rewarded customers who met
their water budgets.
• Golden State Water Company developed the Collaborative
Conservation Education Campaign to spread the message
among its 1 million service population about the importance of using water responsively and to create an open
dialogue with customers to share conservation achievements and ideas with their communities. The campaign included contests celebrating conservation accomplishments,
community-sharing website forums, and video profiles of
customers committed to making conservation a way of life.
• Great Oaks Water Company partnered with WaterSmart
Software to provide Home Water Reports to its customers — a conservation program that achieved overwhelming
customer engagement and acceptance, as well as conservation in excess of 30 percent.
• Liberty Utilities offered its customers several water-saving
programs, including its Ultra High-Efficiency Toilet Program, Conservation Irrigation Nozzle Program, Cash for
Grass (turf replacement), and free water-saving devices
such as indoor conservation kits, shut-off nozzles, shower
timers, and toilet flappers.
• San Gabriel Valley Water Company implemented an active and comprehensive conservation program offering a
full range of helpful programs for customers to cut back
their water use, including high-efficiency clothes washer
rebates, weather-based irrigation controller rebates, rain
collection barrel rebates, rotating sprinkler nozzle rebates,
online landscape design classes, free water conservation