By Jill Ralph. A bill, recently passed by Calif. Gov. Gray Davis, mandates state-wide water-efficiency standards on all residential washing machines. Passage of the bill, AB1561, makes California the first state to adopt water-efficiency standards for residential clothes washers and is scheduled to take affect Jan. 1.

What does this mean? According to Bill Jacoby, San Diego County Water Authority water resources manager, "Each machine will save more than 7,000 gallons of water per year. On a state level, this totals approximately 991,000,000 gallons — or enough to meet the water needs of over 6,000 households for a year."

California is in a dry year and other states are witnessing dryness as well, says Brian White, legislative advocate for the California Building Industry Association. He says the bill is more of an energy-efficiency driven measure, but it is also helping to preserve the state's water supply.

But what does this mean to home builders and home buyers? According to White, the costs will be there, but they will be minimal. "It [the bill] should increase the cost of a washing machine by about 12 percent. So, if a machine was costing $400, it will now cost $450."

White says the costs of the washing machines will continue to increase until the year 2007. "Home builders will have to factor the new prices into the homer buyers' fees. There will be a hit on consumers."

Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, November 2002