While water conservation results in lower consumption, it nearly always increases rates as water agencies attempt to collect the same amount of revenue in order to cover operating costs.
However, conservation programs do have some long-term economic benefits to water districts, as it can prolong existing infrastructure from less use.
It's that's challenge that has the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District Board of Directors mulling over the execution of a water conservation program within its district distribution channel.
The conservation program would allow the district to assist the four retailers it sells to -- Tehachapi city and the community services districts of Stallion Springs, Golden Hills and Bear Valley -- in meeting the state-mandated gallon per capita per day reduction, which is part of the state's reduction of 20 percent per capita use by the year 2020.
Each organization calculates its own gallons per capita per day by dividing its total annual water received, by its population and the number of days in a year. Population figures are tied to the most recent Census, and then adjusted by a historical assumed growth rate until the next Census year.
The plan to recoup the costs of a district-wide conservation program includes one of two means. One would be to absorb the costs into the districts sell rates -- resulting in an increase -- or a better option is by using grant money from the California Department of Water Resources.
The program is something Golden Hills Community Service District General Manager Bill Fisher said he would support.
"We are right on the cusp of meeting the state's guidelines right now, but would still want to participate," he said. "We have talked about doing it more on a regional basis in the past, but we don't have the money to put someone on full-time as a conservationist."
In order to be able to move forward, TCCWD District Manager John Martin is asking the board to approve nearly $15,000 to launch the program.
Meanwhile, water consumption within the district is down, mainly to the slow down in the real estate market, which creates vacancies and less people in the area. However, Martin warned the board that consumption could soar if the economy bounces back as anticipated.
"With the return of some level affluence there will be a lot more consumption, especially if there is a lot more development, which uses a lot of water," he said. "We need to have some permanent water conservation programs in place."