June 5, 2015 marked the deadline for lawmakers to pass bills out of their house to the opposite house. Bills that did not pass in their house of origin by that date have effectively died (unless such a bill has been identified as a 2-year bill). Stoel Rives’ Water Law Team has been monitoring water-related legislation, especially given California’s historic drought. Our Water Law Team will continue to monitor these bills, among many others, including environmental-related legislation, throughout the 2015-2016 Legislative Session. We will provide periodic updates as these bills move through the legislative process. Below is the status and summary of some of the bills Stoel Rives is monitoring.

SUPPLY AND GROUNDWATER

AB-307 (Mathis): Graywater: groundwater recharge STATUS: This bill is a 2-year bill and currently pending referral in the Assembly.

If passed by the legislature and signed into law, AB-307 would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to explicitly permit the usage of residential, commercial and industrial graywater for the recharge of a groundwater basin or aquifer.

AB-453 (Bigelow): Groundwater Management STATUS: AB-453 passed the Assembly on April 16, 2015 and currently is scheduled for hearing on June 23, 2015 before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

If passed by the legislature and chaptered, this bill would authorize, until a groundwater sustainability plan is adopted, a local agency to amend an existing groundwater management plan in furtherance of, and consistent with, the groundwater management plan’s objectives.

AB-647 (Eggman): Beneficial use: storing of water underground STATUS: This bill passed the Assembly on June 4, 2015 and is currently pending referral to a Senate Committee.

If signed into law, this bill would:

  • declare that the storing of water underground constitutes a beneficial use of water if the diverted water is used while it is in underground storage for specified purposes;
  • state the intent of the Legislature that this storage of water underground not injure any legal user of the water involved; and,
  • provide that the period for the reversion of a water right does not include any period when the water is being used in the aquifer or storage area or is being held in storage for later application to beneficial use, as prescribed.

AB-936 (Salas): Groundwater monitoring STATUS: AB-936 has been identified as a 2-year bill. As of this writing, the bill is not scheduled for Committee hearing.

If signed by the Governor and chaptered, this bill would authorize the department to exempt an entity from this eligibility restriction if the entity submits to the department for approval documentation demonstrating that there are special circumstances justifying the entity’s noncompliance, including, but not limited to, that a significant portion of the entity’s service area qualifies as a disadvantaged community and that the water grant or loan project includes those actions needed to comply with groundwater monitoring functions.

AB-1390 (Alejo): Groundwater adjudication STATUS: AB-1390 was passed by the Assembly to the Senate on May 26, 2015. A hearing is currently scheduled for June 23, 2015 before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

If passed by the legislature and approved by the Governor, AB-1390 would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would, among other things, develop procedures to provide a more streamlined and expeditious groundwater adjudication process by which courts may conduct comprehensive determinations of all rights to groundwater in a basin, while fully respecting established principles of water rights law and providing participants appropriate due process.

SB-228 (Cannella): Groundwater storage: beneficial use STATUS: SB-228 is a 2-year bill and is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. As of this blog post, no hearing is scheduled before the Committee.

If passed by the legislature and chaptered, SB-228 would declare that the recharging of a groundwater basin by a local groundwater management agency or a local groundwater sustainability agency for the purposes of repelling saline intrusion and recovering basin groundwater levels constitutes a beneficial use of water if the recharge is consistent with the local agency’s groundwater management plan or groundwater sustainability plan.

WATER QUALITY

AB-725 (Wagner): Water quality: recycled water: storm-induced overflow STATUS: AB-225 is a 2-year bill and is currently pending before the Assembly. The bill is not scheduled for hearing at this time.

If signed into law, this bill, on or before December 31, 2016, would require the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) , in consultation with stakeholders, to adopt a policy to address the potential for a storm-induced overflow from an impoundment in which recycled water is stored for subsequent beneficial use or aesthetic purposes.

AB-1242 (Gray): Water quality: impacts on groundwater: instream flows STATUS: The Assembly passed this bill to the Senate on June 2, 2015. The bill currently is pending Committee referral in the Senate.

If passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, this bill would require the State Board to:

  • take into consideration any applicable groundwater sustainability plan or alternative in formulating state policy for water quality control and adopting or approving a water quality control plan that affects a groundwater basin; and,
  • identify projects for fish recovery that may be undertaken in lieu of instream flows before adopting or approving water quality objectives or a program of implementation that requires instream flows for protection of instream beneficial uses.

SB-385 (Hueso): Primary drinking water standards: hexavalent chromium: compliance plan STATUS: SB-385 passed from the Senate to the Assembly on May 28, 2015, where it currently is pending in the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials.

If passed by the legislature and signed into law, this bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute and further would:

  • authorize, until January 1, 2020, the State Board, at the request of a public water system that prepares and submits a compliance plan to the State Board, to grant a period of time to achieve compliance with the primary drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium by approving the compliance plan, as prescribed;
  • require a public water system to provide specified notice regarding the compliance plan to its customers and the public water system to send written status reports to the State Board;
  • prohibit a public water system from being deemed in violation of the primary drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium while implementing an approved compliance plan or while State Board action on its proposed and submitted compliance plan is pending;
  • authorize the State Board to direct revisions to a compliance plan if the board makes certain determinations and would prohibit a public water system from being granted a period of time to achieve compliance under certain circumstances, including if the public water system does not submit a revised compliance plan or the revised compliance plan is disapproved; and,
  • authorize the State Board to implement, interpret, or make specific these provisions by means of criteria, published on its Internet Web site.

WELL REPORTS

See also Stoel Rives’ Mineral Law Blog.

SB-20 (Pavley): Wells: reports: public availability STATUS: SB-20 was ordered to the Assembly on June 1, 2015. It was read for the first time in the Assembly on June 2, 2015.

If signed by the Governor, SB 20 would

  • require the Department of Water Resources to, upon request, make the reports of completion filed by anyone who digs, bores, or drills a water well, cathodic protection well, or a monitoring well, or abandons or destroys a well, or deepens or reperforates a well available to the public. require the Department of Water Resources to provide specified disclaimers when providing such reports to the public;
  • authorize the department to charge a fee for the provision of a report to recover the costs that does not exceed the reasonable costs to the department of providing the report;
  • require the release of a report to comply with the Information Practices Act of 1977 and would require the Department of Water Resources to redact from the report specified information pertaining to the well owner; and,
  • require a person who requests a report to provide his or her name, address, identification number from a government-issued source, as provided, and reason for making the request.

MUTUAL WATER COMPANIES

AB-656 (Garcia): Joint powers agreements: mutual water companies STATUS: AB-656 was ordered to the Senate on May 22, 2015 where it is scheduled for hearing before the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance on June 17, 2015.

If signed into law, this bill would specifically authorize a mutual water company and a public agency to participate in joint powers agreement for the provision of insurance and risk-pooling, technical support, and other similar services for the purpose of reducing risk liability.