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April 6, 2016  |  Written by Somach Simmons & Dunn

State Water Board to Consider Urban Water Conservation Measures

On April 20, 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) will hold workshops to address whether the urban water conservation measures imposed last year should uniformly be continued. On April 1, 2015, Governor Brown issued the fourth series of executive orders to address California’s severe drought conditions. On May 5, 2015, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation to address specific provisions of the April 1, 2015 Executive Order, including conservation goals for each urban water supplier. Both measures were largely successful, and the state achieved 96% compliance with meeting its 25% overall reduction goal for 2015.

On February 2, 2016, the State Water Board adopted an extended and revised emergency regulation to ensure that urban water conservation continues in 2016. Under the revised regulation, the State Water Board expects statewide water conservation to exceed only 20% in 2016 compared to 2013 water use, as opposed to the 25% overall reduction goal in 2015 compared to 2013 use. The February 2, 2016 emergency regulation, however, also makes adjustments for issues raising statewide water use equity concerns.

The revised February 2, 2016 emergency regulation provides credits and adjustments to urban water suppliers’ conservation standards in three ways: (1) it considers the differences in climate affecting different parts of the state, (2) it provides a mechanism to reflect water-efficient growth experienced by urban areas, and (3) it recognizes significant investments made by suppliers toward creating new, local, drought-resilient sources of potable water supply.

The February 2, 2016 emergency regulation further required State Water Board staff to report back on additional modifications once more water supply data is available later in 2016. Those workshops are set to take place on April 20, 2016, and will address certain factors affecting water use. The State Water Board will receive public information on: (1) whether any of the existing February 2, 2016 emergency regulation elements should be modified and how, (2) which methodology the State Water Board should use to account for regional differences in precipitation and lingering drought impacts, and (3) the extent to which the State Water Board should consider the reliability of urban water supplier’s water supply portfolios in the emergency regulation.

The April 20, 2016 workshops are scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Coastal Hearing Room, CalEPA Headquarters Building, 1011 “I” Street, Sacramento, California 95814.

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