By Aleeza Khan
DAVIS, CA – The Davis Utilities Commission met on Wednesday Jan. 19 to discuss updates on the city of Davis’ Water Utility Fund and Water Use Efficiency Legislation. Due to increased water use from the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery from previous drought, and unprecedented weather conditions, the rate revenue for the Water Utility Fund exceeded expectations by just over $4.31 million for fiscal year (FY) 2020-2022.
Stan Gryczko, the Public Works Utilities & Operations Director, stated that “in ‘19 we replaced all of our water meters with AMI.” This Advanced Metering Infrastructure gives additional tools that allow both utility workers and average customers to better understand water use.
Contrary to higher revenues, the actual expenditures for the Water Utility Fund were lower than budgeted for FY 20-21. “We did, at the outset of COVID-19, halt or significantly slow down a number of our capital projects,” explained Gryczko.
As a result of economic impacts from the COVID pandemic, the water utility funds for FY 20-21 had to be focused on necessary operations rather than larger capital improvement projects. The decrease in capital improvement spending resulted in the most significant difference between anticipated and actual expenditures.
Along with fund updates, the commission presented information about new state legislation regarding water use efficiency. Dawn Calciano, Conservation Coordinator, shared Governor Newsom’s goal of “making water conservation a way of life.”
The state has set in place a number of short term and long term actions to aid in water efficiency, including updates to state water waste prohibitions. According to Calciano, “many of the restrictions that the state is enacting are already in place here in Davis,” one of which is the prohibition of using drinking water for decorative fountains or for washing sidewalks and driveways.
One of the restrictions that is new to the city, however, allows residents to reduce or eliminate watering their vegetations or lawns during a declared drought emergency, and prohibits homeowners associations from preventing this action.
These new prohibitions “should be going into effect next week,” said Calciano.
As for long term actions, Calciano provided an update on the 2018 legislation—Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668—which called for new urban water use efficiency standards for indoor water use, outdoor water use, and water lost to leaks.
“The standards are supposed to be adopted in June of 2022 and then we’ll begin calculating and reporting on those objectives in November of 2023. And we need to be in compliance with those by 2027,” Calciano stated.
Davis has not yet adopted the new urban water use efficiency standards. As Calciano went on to explain, the City is currently “at the point where we’re waiting for information back from the State Water Board on exactly how those different portions of the objective would be calculated.”