Water conservation is so important to California that it's in the state constitution. Article X, Section 2, says that "the waste ... of water [should] be prevented, and that the conservation of such waters is to be exercised."
That's especially so this year, when Gov. Jerry Brown called for urban areas to cut back their water use by 25 percent in response to a multiyear drought. The April 1 executive order also asked water agencies "to develop rate structures ... to maximize water conservation."
But just 19 days later, those rate structures were severely limited by the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal, ruling inCapistrano Taxpayers Association v. City of San Juan Capistrano. The court's Third Division, based in Santa Ana, struck down the city's tiered water pricing, in which customers pay a progressively higher per-unit price as their water use goes up.
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