On April 1, 2015, California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. issued an Executive Order to address the significant drought conditions in the state. This Alert provides a summary of the key measures, which are effective immediately.
- 25-percent urban water conservation target statewide is in effect until February 28, 2016. Those using more water are expected to conserve more than those using less.
- Conservation steps called for include: lawn replacement program; restrictions on outdoor irrigation for residential and commercial properties; halting of irrigation of median strips; incentives for development of water-efficient technology; and consumer rebate program to replace inefficient appliances. Conservation rates will be instituted agency by agency.
- Urban users will be required to provide monthly information on water usage. Senior water right holders will have to provide "frequent" reports of usage, including agricultural use.
- Agricultural water suppliers will be required to include a drought management plan in their water management plans.
- High- and medium-priority groundwater basins will have to immediately implement the groundwater evaluation and monitoring program, which includes investigation and reporting on groundwater conditions and usage.
- State permitting agencies will prioritize water infrastructure projects and programs for recycling, reservoir improvement projects, surface water treatment, desalination, stormwater recapture and graywater systems. California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance is required.
- Department of Water Resources will allow water transfers based on crop idling to use the State Water Project system, subject to available capacity and no harm.
- The State Water Board will prioritize new and amended safe drinking water permits.
- CEQA is suspended for programmatic actions and non-infrastructure measures. Construction will require CEQA compliance. (Governor Brown is willing to reconsider this limit if he is persuaded that CEQA is hindering drought mitigation measures.)