California's Weird Water Laws

    Published: May 11, 2017

    California’s Weird Water Laws

    As far as water is concerned, California has been through some rough years. Coming off of a devastating five-year drought, many areas in the state experienced unprecedented rainfall in the early winter months of 2017. This excessive rain on top of dry soil unable to properly soak in the water quickly led to flooding, mudslides, and infrastructural damage.

    California is no stranger to strangeness: the state covers more than 160,000 square miles in area and contains almost every type of climate within its state borders. The extremes of the desert in contrast to the lush green farmland has meant that California has always needed to carefully consider its water supply, and how best to treat it.

    You may not know that California is home to several specific water laws and regulations that affect how its residents can drink, treat, and use their water. Here are some of California’s most unique water laws, some of which have changed recently:

    • New California homes will be relatively lawn-less. In 2015, at the height of the drought, revised laws dictated that new homes being constructed in California can only have 25% of the total area in a home’s front, back, and side yards composed of “lawn,” or grass. For the rest of the outdoor area, homeowners will have to use more drought-resistant landscaping.Overall, this law is a huge step in the right direction, as major metropolises in California continue to plant sprawling lawns and use plant life in their landscaping that requires constant watering. Other states, like Nevada, switched to rock and drought-resistant landscaping years ago to align with their desert climate. The regulations are expected to reduce water usage in new homes by 20%.
    • Car washes are expected to invest time and resources into recycling and reusing the majority of their water. According to Assembly Bill 2230, which was passed in 2012, all car wash locations in California are required to install systems that recycle at least 60% of the water used per day at the car wash for its operations.On the surface, this may seem like a particularly harsh or unfair law when considering that California recently lifted many of its restrictions on water consumption and use for citizens in major cities. But consider how much water a car wash uses per day; is a typical household really using a similar amount of water? And because the water is not used for anything other than washing cars, the systems that are needed to repurpose the water are less complex than you’d imagine. This law is another example of California thinking outside of the box to cut down on water waste.
    • In many areas of California, salt-based water softeners are completely banned. We know you may be alarmed: does this mean that Pelican Water softeners aren’t even legal in California? Never you fear: our water softener alternatives with salt free technology don’t use any sodium or potassium in order to remove your hard water. The logic behind the law is sound: the salt content in our nation’s water continues to increase, and the law is a concrete way to limit this trend.The salt brine discharge from salt-based softeners can be especially troublesome when state water levels are low, as is often the case in California. In order to treat the high levels of salt content an expensive reverse osmosis treatment plant, which simply isn’t feasible on the state’s budget. Luckily, homeowners have other options for water softeners, like our Pelican NaturSoft® water softener alternatives that prevent and remove hard water without emitting salt discharge.

    After researching the reasons behind California’s seemingly strange water laws, it’s clear that the state knows what it’s doing. When your water supply is running low, you should always do what’s necessary to reduce waste and keep the water supply clean.