On December 21, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) released a proposed regulatory framework for modifications to the now-contemplated extensions to the Emergency Regulation for Urban Water Conservation currently in effect in California.

The Water Board convened a process with stakeholders to solicit inputs on potential modifications to the Emergency Regulation, which culminated in a workshop held on December 7, 2015. The extensions to the Emergency Regulation were drafted in response to an Executive Order issued in April 2015, in which Governor Brown directed the Water Board to achieve statewide reductions of 25 percent in potable urban water use. The proposed regulatory framework provides staff recommendations for modifications to an extended Emergency Regulation. Staff recommend the following four modifications: (1) an adjustment to the conservation tier of an urban water supplier to account for differences in evapotranspiration rates (climate) relative to the statewide average, which will benefit the desert regions of the state; (2) an adjustment to the conservation tier of an urban water supplier to account for water-efficient growth since 2013; (3) a one-tier (4 percent) adjustment to the conservation tier of an urban water supplier to account for development since 2013 of drought-resistant supplies in the form of desalinated seawater or indirect potable reuse; and (4) a modification to the current exclusion for commercial agriculture to require that the exclusion applies only to water supplied to such customers producing a minimum of $1,000 per year in revenue. Water Board staff further propose a cap of 4 percent on all credits or adjustments to an urban water supplier’s conservation standard. Otherwise, staff recommend maintaining all other elements of the current Emergency Regulation.

The Water Board currently anticipates releasing a draft Emergency Regulation for additional public comment in mid-January 2016. Consideration by the Water Board of an extended Emergency Regulation is anticipated to occur in early February 2016.