State Water Board Draft Emergency Conservation Regulation for 2016

State Water Board Draft Emergency Conservation Regulation for 2016

[ACWA Regulatory Advisory]

Jan. 15, 2016

State Water Board Draft Emergency Conservation Regulation for 2016
Comments Due at noon Thursday, Jan. 28

The State Water Resources Control Board today released a draft emergency conservation regulation<> that would extend the requirements of the existing regulation through October and offer “modest adjustments” to reflect climate, growth and significant investments in new, locally developed drought-resilient potable water supplies.

Public comment on the draft regulation is due by noon Thursday, Jan. 28. The State Water Board is expected to consider the regulation at its meeting Feb. 2.

As proposed, the draft regulation would allow urban water suppliers to apply for an adjustment of no more than 8% to their individual state-imposed conservation target. The climate adjustment, where applicable, could reduce a supplier’s target by up to 4% for suppliers located in warmer regions of the state.

The growth adjustment, as proposed, would provide a mechanism to account for water-efficient growth since 2013. To qualify for the adjustment, suppliers would have to provide specific data to the State Water Board by March 15.

The new local drought-resilient supply credit, as proposed, would allow urban water suppliers that obtain at least 4% of their total potable water production from a qualifying new local, drought-resilient water supply to apply for a 4% to 8% reduction to their target. The credit would be equal to a supplier’s actual percentage of total potable water production that comes from a qualifying source up to a maximum of 8%. The source of supply must have been developed since 2013, and the use of that supply must “not reduce the water available to another legal user of water or the environment.” In order to qualify for the credit, water suppliers would have to submit required certification to the State Water Board by March 15.

The draft regulation also clarifies the provision for receiving an exemption for commercial agriculture.

Total monthly water production and specific reporting on residential use and enforcement would remain in effect.

The draft regulation and a fact sheet are available at<>.

ACWA’s Position

ACWA is reviewing the draft regulation, which builds on a draft framework released by the State Water Board staff on Dec. 21.

In general, ACWA has been calling on the State Water Board to allow locally developed drought-resilient water supplies to play a much more significant role in the state’s drought response in 2016.

In comments submitted Jan. 6, ACWA said the framework failed to recognize the importance of local water supply investments and could compel Californians to sustain extraordinary conservation efforts that are disproportionate to the actual need or immediate water supply conditions on the ground.

ACWA believes the current approach – and heavy focus on mandatory conservation – is denying communities the benefit of significant investment in local water projects and could provide a disincentive for water suppliers to make additional investments in the future.

ACWA‘s Jan. 6 comment letter is available here<>.

A Jan. 12 op-ed in The Sacramento Bee by ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn is available here<>.


In May 2015, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation for implementing the required 25% reduction in urban water use outlined in the April 1 executive order issued by Gov. Jerry Brown. The regulation requires urban water suppliers to meet mandatory conservation targets ranging from 4% to 36%, as compared to 2013 water use, through February 2016.

On Nov. 13, 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order directing the State Water Board to extend the emergency conservation regulation through October 2016 if the drought persists through January 2016. As a result, the State Water Board on Dec. 7 held a public workshop to gather input on what modifications, if any, should be made if the existing regulation needs to be extended.

The regulatory framework released Dec. 21 by the State Water Board staff outlined proposed some modifications to the existing regulation but called for a credits and adjustments to be capped at no more than 4%.

Next Steps and Questions

ACWA will review the draft regulation and submit comments to the State Water Board by the Jan. 28 deadline.

ACWA appreciates that State Water Board staff has recognized the need for adjustments and proposed some key modifications. However, ACWA and water agencies will continue to advocate that the State Water Board make further adjustments to recognize the importance of water supply tools and address concerns raised by ACWA and water agencies throughout the state.

ACWA member agencies with questions may contact ACWA Special Projects Manager Dave Bolland at (916) 441-4545 or<>.

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