SACRAMENTO – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed AB 715, a bill that would require all new construction in California to use more high-efficiency toilets and urinals. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation and will help meet the needs of the estimated 500,000 new residents in California each year. The new requirements would yield savings of more than 8 billion gallons of water by the 10th year of implementation — surpassing the total amount of bottled water consumed by Americans in all of 2005.
AB 715 would set new water flush volume standards by making use of existing high-efficiency toilet technology, including 111 toilet models produced by 24 manufacturers and 34 models of urinals produced by nine manufacturers. All new homes, schools, office buildings and other construction would be required to utilize high-efficiency toilets. Beginning in 2010 the legislation will require 50% of all toilets sold in California to meet the new flush standards, ramping up to 100% in 2014. The bill also will allow the installation of waterless urinals in California.
High efficiency toilets only use 1.28 gallons per flush, or less; while high efficiency urinals use one-half gallon per flush, or less.
"We applaud the forward-thinking actions of Governor Schwarzenegger, Assembly Member Jon Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and the California Legislature to ensure responsible environmental stewardship and water conservation," said Barbara Higgens, executive director of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute. "PMI is proud to have worked with Assembly Member Laird to develop and include the market transition plan in the legislation. This transition element is critical for allowing plumbing manufactures sufficient time to transform current product lines to successfully meet consumers’ expectations for performance, while also meeting the state’s desire for high efficiency plumbing."
On October 12, Governor Schwarzenegger signed several other significant energy and water conservation bills.
AB 662 by Assemblymember Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City) expands the authority of the California Energy Commission to set water efficiency standards for appliances.
AB 1560 by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) requires the California Energy Commission to incorporate standards for water efficiency and conservation into the existing building standards governing energy efficiency.
AB 1406 by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) adds condominiums to the meaning of "structure" with respect to the use of recycled water for toilet and urinal flushing.
But perhaps the most important of the bills is AB 1470 by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) creates the Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007 which provides incentives to attain the goal of installing 200,000 solar water heating systems in the state by 2017. The act requires the California Public Utilities Commission to create financial incentives that will encourage the installation of solar hot water systems that displace the use of natural gas for water heating. The act requires the CPUC to establish a new fund for the incentives by adding a surcharge to the bills for most natural gas customers. The goal of the legislation is to create $250 million in incentives over a 10-year period, when the bill sunsets. It is the hope of the bill's authors that by 2018 the solar industry will be thriving and self-sustaining without further incentives.