- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A coalition of businesses including The Coca-Cola Company and Gap Inc. announced Thursday it is backing Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for conservation in drought-stricken California.

The individual companies didn’t say they would scale back their own operations to save water as California heads into a fourth dry year. Instead, the group organized by Ceres, a Boston environmental nonprofit, says it is urging sustainable water management.

That includes lobbying for state and local policies promoting water efficiency and restrictions on tapping underground wells. But when it comes to conservation, the state has been focused on residents instead of businesses, pressuring Californians to save water by letting their lawns wither and taking shorter showers.

Brown called on residents to slash water use by 20 percent when he declared a drought emergency last January. He released a separate long-term water plan calling for conservation targets, which members of the business coalition committed to supporting.

Other members of the coalition include General Mills, Levi Strauss & Co, Symantec, homebuilder KB Home and Driscoll’s, a berry supplier. Some of their representatives said in a conference call Thursday that that they are voluntarily conserving water and taking steps such as leak-detection programs and cleaning out bottles with ionized air instead of water.

“These actions alone won’t solve California’s water crisis,” said Kirsten James of Ceres.

The business members of the coalition were vague on what specific changes they want to see in how the government manages water.

An exception was on protecting groundwater regulations. Driven to action by the drought, the state Legislature last session overhauled the state’s largely unregulated underground wells, a key water source in dry periods. The coalition would fight attempts to unravel the changes, James said.



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