On November 13, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order directing the State Water Resources Control Board to extend the current emergency water conservation regulation, mandating a statewide reduction in potable urban water use of 25 percent, if drought conditions persisted through January 2016. Under the emergency water conservation regulation, urban water suppliers had been assigned mandated conservation reductions ranging between 8 percent and 36 percent.
Despite recent precipitation, on February 2, 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an extended and revised emergency water conservation regulation that continues restrictions on potable water use through October 2016. The revised regulation continues prohibitions on customer end-uses of water, such as the application of potable water to driveways and sidewalks and the irrigation of turf on public medians, among other uses. As revised, the regulation creates penalties for homeowners’ associations and community service organizations that impede homeowners from reducing or eliminating outdoor watering. Most significantly, the revised regulation continues the mandated reduction targets on urban water suppliers but provides for adjustments to a supplier’s calculated conservation standard that takes into consideration differences in climate (evapotranspiration rates), water-efficient growth since 2013, and the significant investments made by some urban water suppliers in creating new, local drought-resilient sources of potable water (e.g., desalination). If applicable, such adjustments range from 2 percentage points to a maximum allowable reduction of 8 percentage points in an urban water suppliers’ assigned conservation standard.
Further information on urban water conservation can be found on the State Water Resources Control Board website.