State regulators are considering extending the mandatory 25-percent conservation rate beyond February.
Some cities say the emergency conservation regulations went a little too far, by not giving credit to cities that have spent money bringing new water supplies on line, such as desalination plants.
"Our customers are using less water, but paying more, because of the artificial constraints placed on the region," says DeAna Verbeke with the Helix Water District in eastern San Diego County. "Our customers are frustrated, demanding action, and this mandate is creating trust and credibility issues with them."
But Sean Bothwell, with the California Coastkeeper Alliance, says as long as there is a drought, regulators shouldn't relax mandates.
"We need to understand that this is an emergency situation and everyone should be conserving regardless of possible new supplies that might be coming on line," says Bothwell.
Water agencies suggested regional climate differences be considered in any new regulations because some cities are losing trees in the drought.
"Customers stepped up and many people let their lawns go brown and stopped watering their lawns, but the unintended consequence has been severe impacts on the trees," says John Woodling, executive director of the Regional Water Authority.
The State Water Resources Control Board says enacting all suggested changes would render the regulations meaningless.
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