Governor signs new law to strengthen California’s water conservation efforts

Against the backdrop of California’s driest period in at least 1,200 years, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel that will further incentivize the installation of drought-tolerant landscaping, a key tool to combat California’s worsening drought and increase water conservation. Most significantly, Assembly Bill 2142 enhances the value of rebates for installing drought-tolerant landscaping by exempting them from taxation, aligning these rebates with other permanent water efficiency and energy conservation rebates.

“As California confronts drought, extreme heat and worsening climate change, it is critical that we deepen our investment in water conservation strategies,” said Gabriel. “This new law will strengthen consumer rebates and help ensure that Californians who switch to drought-tolerant landscaping are able to save water and save money. I applaud Governor Newsom for his leadership on climate resiliency and thank him for signing this bill today.”

“AB 2142 will make it much easier for Californians to participate in lawn replacement programs sponsored by their local water agency,” said Julie Hall, Senior Legislative Advocate for the Association of California Water Agencies. “In a time when we face severe drought, exempting these programs from California taxable income is an important incentive to help reduce water use.”

This measure comes on the heels of Californians preparing for a fourth dry year and the State Water Resources Control Board voting unanimously to implement a statewide ban on watering of non-functional turf as California’s drought becomes increasingly severe. California’s large reservoirs are depleted, and the snowpack has shrunk to 12 percent of what it usually is this time of year. Scientists reported earlier this year that California’s current megadrought is the worst in at least 1,200 years.

Water efficiency incentives have proven to be key in enabling Californians of all incomes and backgrounds to participate in conservation efforts. A study from the service area of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California found that 68 percent of traditional landscaping and turf replacement rebates went to low- and medium-income households. Similarly, a report from the San Diego County Water Authority found that 55 percent of rebate recipients were low- and medium-income families.