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Executive Summary for August 13th

For an overview of the latest news on the California drought, we’ve organized the most recent developments in a curated summary.

Published on Aug. 13, 2015 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

State Unveils ‘Turf & Toilet’ Rebate Program

California is making $30 million available to replace wasteful toilets and thirsty lawns across the state. The money comes from Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water and habitat bond measure approved by voters in 2014.

It may be the first time the state has offered money for turf rebates. Although local agencies have been offering such deductions for years, state-level funding marks a significant boost in the effort to control the largest source of water demand in the urban sector. This is especially so since locally funded programs have proven so popular that they’ve rapidly run out of money.

The program offers rebates up to $2 per square foot of lawn removed, and up to $2,000 per household. Importantly, a major chunk of the funding is dedicated to underprivileged communities in the San Joaquin Valley, a region suffering from severe groundwater depletion.

The toilet component includes $6 million in funding, enough to replace 60,000 old toilets with $100 rebates each.

And lest you think toilets are the low-hanging conservation fruit of the last drought, think again. Apparently millions of California homes still don’t have the most frugal toilets available. This report last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pacific Institute estimates that new toilets could save more than 7 gallons per person per day.

Details of the turf and toilet rebate program for consumers, including how to apply for funds, can be found at: http://www.saveourwaterrebates.com.

California Leads on Thrifty Showerheads

Another new measure approved by the state raises the bar on showerhead efficiency. On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission adopted new standards that require showerheads now sold in the state to exceed existing federal rules.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard for showerheads is 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). California’s new standard requires that, by July 2016, all showerheads sold in the state must use no more than 2 GPM. Then, in July 2018, the standard drops to 1.8 GPM.

“I just want to point out this is pretty huge,” Commissioner Andrew McAllister said at Wednesday’s meeting in Sacramento.

Drought May Cause Fish Heart Attacks

We’ve been reading a lot lately about how the drought harms fish populations. Obviously, fish live in water, so when there is less water, fish suffer. But what really kills fish during a drought?

The clever folks at FISHBIO, a California-based research group, have come up with one answer: Some fish may actually die from heart attacks.

One way fish cope with warmer waters is by increasing their heart rate. However, like any creature, that only goes so far.

“This is because at very warm temperatures, the heart reaches a point where it cannot speed up any more, even though the fish is just resting,” the FISHBIO scientists say in a recent report on their research.

That research was able to identify the temperatures at which California Central Valley steelhead trout – a threatened species – ran out of aerobic capacity. Knowing this threshold may help inform more efficient management of water resources to protect steelhead and salmon.

Top Image: Associated Press photo.

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