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Governor Signs Water Conservation Legislation

June 18, 2018
Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed two bills that enact the state’s plan for the future of water conservation and water use efficiency. 
 
The Governor's actions on SB 606 (Hertzberg) and AB 1668 (Friedman) culminates several years of intense legislative discussion and debate on his 2017 Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life proposal, which sought to codify the emergency water conservations measures implemented during the last drought.

After the water conservation discussion stalled at the end of the 2017 legislative session, Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) reignited the issue with an intent to have legislation passed. Long negotiations led to the final two bills that address different areas of water efficiency. SB 606 focuses on urban water use. AB 1668 focuses on rural and agricultural water use. Below is an overview of the bills.

Together the bills do the following:
  • Set water use objectives for urban and commercial water suppliers:
    • Establishes urban water use objectives and water use reporting requirements, including a requirement that an urban water supplier will calculate an aggregate urban water use objective for the previous calendar year beginning Nov. 1, 2023 (SB 606).
    • Establishes urban water use objectives and reporting standards for indoor and outdoor residential and commercial use (AB 1668).
    • Requires the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to coordinate with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to make recommendations and adopt long-term standards for efficient water use (AB 1668).
  • Establish reporting requirements and oversight:
    • Requires an urban water supplier to submit an annual report to DWR including the urban water use objective and actual water use (SB 606).
    • States the Legislature’s intent for oversight hearings with the SWRCB and DWR by early in 2026 (SB 606).
    • Requires the Legislative Analyst’s Office to evaluate implementation by Jan. 10, 2024 (SB 606).
  • Outline enforcement actions by the State Water Resources Control Board:
    • Authorizes SWRCB to issue information orders, written notices, and conservation orders to an urban water supplier that does not meet its water use objective. Conservation orders are prohibited from curtailing or otherwise limiting the supplier’s exercise of water rights (SB 606).
    • Expands local agency fining authority to include violations of certain regulations adopted by the SWB related to urban water use (SB 606).
  • Plan for future droughts:
    • Revises urban water management plans to include a simple lay description of the reliability of its water supplies, the agency’s strategy for meeting its water needs, and other information necessary to provide a general understanding of the agency’s plan (SB 606).
    • Requires an urban water supplier to make the water shortage contingency plan available to its customers and any city or county within which it provides water supplies no later than 30 days after adoption (SB 606).
    • Requires an urban water supplier to conduct a water supply and demand assessment and provide that information to DWR with information for anticipated shortage, triggered shortage response actions, compliance and enforcement actions, and communication actions consistent with the supplier’s water shortage contingency plan each May (SB 606).
    • Requires the governing body of a distributor of a public water supply to declare a water shortage emergency condition whenever it determines that the ordinary demands and requirements of water consumers cannot be satisfied without depleting the water supply to the extent that there would be insufficient water for human consumption, sanitation, and fire protection (SB 606).
    • Revises the agricultural water management-planning act to do a number of things, including quantify measure to increase agricultural water use efficiency and an annual water budget (AB 1668).
    • Direct the DWR and SWRCB to identify small or rural communities that could be at risk of drought and to develop and use countrywide drought contingency plans (AB 1668).
 
 


 
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