State Water Board Votes to Adopt its Emergency Regulations

On April 1, 2015, Governor Brown issued an executive order directing the State Water Resources Control Board to impose restrictions on water suppliers with the ultimate goal of achieving a statewide 25 percent reduction in potable urban water usage by February 2016. The order also requires certain water users to implement water efficiency measures and prohibits the use of potable water for some types of irrigation.

In response to this order, the Board released draft emergency drought regulations on April 18, subsequently amended on April 28. The regulations, designed to prevent the waste and unreasonable use of water and to promote water conservation, prohibit certain actions such as watering landscapes in a way that creates runoff, watering driveways and sidewalks, and serving water in restaurants except upon request. The regulations aim to conserve 1.3 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. On May 5th, the Board voted to adopt the regulations.

The draft regulations reflect the input of more than 250 water agencies. Governor Brown has stated he will propose additional legislation to allow local agencies to enforce these regulations through methods such as the imposition of hefty fines for failure to comply with the restrictions.

The conservation savings standards for urban water suppliers will take effect June 1st. Prohibitions applying to all Californians will take effect immediately upon approval of the regulation by the Office of Administrative Law. More information can be found on the Board’s website.