The State Water Resources Control Board is proposing ambitious urban water conservation targets beginning in 2025—at a cost of up to $13 billion.

Numerous local water agencies are pushing back on the draft regulation, and so is the Agricultural Council of California and its member nurseries. During a recent board workshop, Jacob DeFant, who coordinates public policy for the trade group, raised concerns about costs to ratepayers and landscapers from restricting outdoor water use, and urged the board to tap into taxpayer dollars to absorb the expense for the transition.

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He called the statewide standard infeasible, given California’s broad economic and environmental diversity. The Ag Council hopes to soften the targets to account for variances in climates, soil types and incomes.
It's not the first foray for the Ag Council into non-ag water issues. President Emily Rooney has been serving on a drinking water advisory committee for the board. In 2019 the state established a $130 million drinking water fund through cap-and-trade dollars, which avoids the usual route of adding more fees on farmers, and Rooney hopes to keep it that way.