California regulators seek less water restriction as Carlsbad kicks in

California regulators have proposed that a 25% state-mandated water conservation target should be eased off on grounds including the start up of major desalination and water reuse programmes.

Under the proposals inland regions and those deploying new sources such as recycled water and the recently completed Carlsbad giant desalination plant, could be eligible for a reduction inn conservation obligations imposed by state governor Jerry Brown. State water regulators set local targets in the range between 4-36% but they will expire in February 2016.

Brown recently extended his mandate, allowing regulators to impose conservation measures until October 2016, should California continue to face drought in January.

Climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board, Max Gomberg, said Californians had reduced their water consumption by 27%. "We're proposing modest changes," he said.

California is in its driest four-year span on record and officials anticipate a possible fifth year of drought.

Community leaders in Southern California have argued that the state should acknowledge huge investments in new water supplies in the region including the US$ 1 billion Carlsbad seawater desalination plant, and Orange County's recent expansion of wastewater recycling to produce drinking water at 400 Ml/d.

"It has been difficult to tell our ratepayers that their investments in local supply projects have not resulted in providing the buffer against drought as intended," the city of San Diego's public utilities director, Halla Razak, recently told state regulators.

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