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Last week, Governor Newsom issued an executive order calling on state and local agencies to increase water conservation measures following the driest January, February, and March on record. Executive Order N-7-22 expands upon a series of existing executive orders aimed at reducing water use, improving drought resiliency, and responding to future climate challenges such as more frequent, prolonged, and intense drought. The newest executive order provides that the Governor’s previous drought emergency proclamations remain in full force and effect, and directs state agencies to continue implementing all directives from previous proclamations and accelerate implementation where feasible.
The executive order directs the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to “consider” adopting emergency regulations by May 25, 2022, that:
While projects or actions undertaken to advance these directives are automatically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), other water conservation projects or actions may also be eligible for exemption by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency on a case-by-case basis.
The order restricts counties, cities, and other public agencies in medium- or high-priority groundwater basins from:
These restrictions do not apply to wells providing less than two acre-feet per year of groundwater for individual domestic users, or wells that exclusively provide groundwater for public water supply systems as defined in Health and Safety Code section 116275.
The executive order also:
Stakeholder reactions to the order have generally been positive. Many special districts throughout the state lauded the order’s approach of encouraging local water managers to identify and implement water conservation projects or actions in response to worsening drought conditions rather than imposing mandatory water cutbacks. The Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Jared Blumenfield, emphasized the importance of listening to local water users because a “one size fits all” approach will not work in California.
If you have any questions about how the executive order may impact you, your agency, or your business, please contact Kyler Rayden at firstname.lastname@example.org or Aaron Ferguson at email@example.com.
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